Brooks Thompson led Littleton High School to a state title before his college career at Oklahoma State.

The Colorado basketball community lost a good one last night, and I lost a big brother, a role model, and one of my basketball heroes. Brooks James Thompson passed away yesterday. He was a graduate of Littleton High School. As a sixth grade boy living in Stillwater, Oklahoma I had never even heard of Littleton until I heard Oklahoma State PA announcer Larry Reece. With the MC Hammer “Can’t Touch This” beat playing in the background, Reece would yell to 6,000 of ‘the rowdiest fans in the country’, “From Littleton, Colorado a 6’4 junior Brooooookkkkkkssssss Thhhhhoooommmppppssssooonnnnn!” and the crowd would go crazy. I figured if Brooks was from Littleton then it must be a cool place.



Sam Masten (left) and Eric Garcia of Wofford College (middle left) are two of the players I have been able to mentor and develop in Brooks’s hometown because of his influence.

It’s funny how things come full circle in life. Here I am 24 years later developing basketball players in, of all places, Littleton, Colorado the home of one of my basketball heroes Brooks Thompson. I have always taken a lot of pride in my work, but with the fact that I am developing basketball players in Brooks’ hometown, I have always felt an obligation to help them develop into the type of player that Brooks would be proud of. I learned so much from Brooks. He was a 6’4 lefty whose swag was always on 100. He was tough, cool under pressure, and could talk trash with the best of ‘em! He could shoot, had bounce, and my favorite part of his game was his pull up jump shot. All of those things that Brooks showed me as a young kid, I use on a daily basis to develop the next great player from Littleton, Colorado.

Brooks may no longer be with us in this life, but his legacy in our Colorado basketball community will live forever. Sam Masten doesn’t know it, but Brooks Thompson’s legacy is living through him. Just a few weeks ago Sam was playing really well at the Metro State high school team camp. So well in fact that the twitter-verse was blowing up with comments about his play. After the camp, a basketball scout reached out to me to congratulate me on the work I had done with Sam. He mentioned that he was a smooth left hander with toughness, swag, and a beautiful pull up jump shot. Sounds very familiar! I can’t take credit for developing Sam’s pull up jumper. I was simply teaching Sam what Brooks taught me after practice one night in 1993 in Stillwater, Oklahoma in an empty Gallagher-Iba Arena. He told his secret was how he looked off the defense to get into the pull up. Who knew what I learned that night, would help develop a left-handed guard from Littleton, Colorado all these years later.

Lessons I learned from Brooks:

1024x1024To never settle for good – After leading Littleton High School to a state title, Brooks played his first two seasons at Texas A&M. During his sophomore campaign Brooks made second team All-Southwest Conference (for you youngn’s the SWC was a conference that was around until the mid 90’s before it dissolved because 4 teams left and joined the Big 8 and merged into the Big 12). Brooks had a good college career at Texas A&M, but Brooks ventured out into uncomfortable territory and transferred to Oklahoma State University. Transferring to Oklahoma State was risky, but Brooks had the courage to walk away from good to pursue greatness.

The underdog can win if the underdog works and is tough – Brooks was 6 foot 4 inches tall, he was strong, an unbelievable left-handed shooter who had deep range, and was deadly pulling up off the dribble from deep. Sometimes in life the decisions that determine your destiny are tough, uncommon, and can be difficult to the point they won’t make sense to many. Brooks had aspirations of playing in the NBA, but there was one problem. Brooks was not a point guard! At 6 foot 4 Brooks would have been too small to play shooting guard in the NBA. Hall of Fame to be Coach Eddie Sutton recognized this and molded Brooks into a point guard.

As I recall this was a very uncomfortable transition for Brooks, but one that was needed. Brooks’ difficult decision payed huge dividends as he led Oklahoma State, who was picked 6th in an 8 team conference to a second place finish and a top 20 national ranking. His senior year he was a first team all-conference selection as he led OSU to a top 16 national ranking. Following his college career Brooks played 4 years in the NBA including a stint with his hometown team, the Denver Nuggets.

Share success with others and use it to inspire them – Of all the things I learned from Brooks the most impactful was how he treated me once he made it to the NBA. When he’d come back to Oklahoma he would take time to spend with me and catch up. He would also send me shoes. Brooks was sponsored by Fila. Back in the day Filas were a pretty stylish shoe, but the Filas he sent me weren’t all that stylish. My dad was a college basketball coach, so I had tons of Nikes and Jordans, but I’d always wear the Filas that Brooks sent me. My boys would make fun of me, but I could care less because I wore those shoes with so much pride and would brag about how an NBA player sent them to me.

His relationship with me inspired me and made believe in myself. I have never forgotten how special I felt back then to have a big brother in the NBA that looked out for me and sent me shoes. I may never make it to the NBA like my big brother, but I will use my success and basketball talent to inspire young basketball players in of all places… Littleton, Colorado, home of Brooks James Thompson.