Fresh off his 2017 Pac-12 Player of the Year, Dillon Brooks couldn’t avoid a chance to reflect. Entering the Pac-12 Tournament as the No. 1 seed, Oregon has big plans and this Canadian is the reason why.
“It feels good to get recognized by the Pac-12,” said Brooks. “Last year was a bummer, but this year is a great year. I just feel proud of myself.”
Brooks felt the race was close for Pac-12 POW between himself and UCLA’s super freshman Lonzo Ball.
“I think it was pretty close at the beginning between me and Ball. He’s a great player, a tremendous player,” Brooks said. “We’ve had our little battles. I guess the committee chose me.”
Members of the media chuckled aloud when Brooks was asked how he found out he won the award.
“On a Tweet,” Brooks said. “The guys told me and congratulated me. It’s a great accomplishment to have.”
The 1st Team All-Pac-12 and All-American candidate feels invisible right now. In his last nine games, Brooks is averaging 21 points a night. He understands the Ducks go, as he goes.
“I’m just so locked in,” Brooks said calmly. “It starts with me and trickles down to everyone else. If I’m locked in and ready to play every day and every time at practice, it’s follow the leader. Guys are getting ready every day. Jordan (Bell), Chris (Boucher) and Dylan (Ennis) are getting ready every day, so it just trickles down. Brings our full mindset to the game.”
DB spoke glowingly about his teammate Jordan Bell. The Long Beach native is the current 2017 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Pac-12 All-Defensive Team and 2nd Team All-Pac-12.
“Well, deserving,” Brooks emphasized without hesitation. “He does it all. Block shots, gets steals and rebounds the basketball at a high rate. He’s well deserving for sure.”
Head coach Dana Altman has issued a ‘Swing Away’ mindset heading into tournament season. It is truly the only way to approach this time of the year.
“Follow what he (Atlman) has been telling us all year. We have to rebound, limit our turnovers and share the basketball,” Brooks echoed. “When we do all those things, we blowout teams. When we do two of those things, it’s pretty close. Our downfall right now is rebounding. He have to refocus on that. We can't survive, especially in three games back-to-back or March Madness with that.”
After a high-scoring overtime thriller, Arizona State outlasted Stanford, 98-88. The Sun Devils will now prepare for a rematch against UO at noon PCT on Thursday afternoon.
After slipping past ASU, 71-70, by one point in Eugene, Oregon respects their opponent. The Sun Devils have the Ducks full attention this time.
“Great scoring team that can shoot it really well from outside,” Brooks said in reference to Arizona State. “We’re ready. Whatever comes our way. We’re going to focus on them for that day and get the job done.”
The Erving Award finalist is extremely aware of his surroundings. Yet, he is refreshingly focused on the daily grind. Nothing more, nothing less.
“It’s just focus every day. Focusing on that one game,” Brooks reiterated. “Tackling that game at that time, and never looking before. We’re the first game so we don’t have to watch anyone before us. We can look after. It’s being prepared, being focused. Playing your role to the best of your ability.”
T-Mobile Arena in Sin City is the host of the Pac-12 Tournament. It is the type of setting that DB and his teammates thrive under.
“It’s a pretty big arena,” stated Brooks. “Bigger crowds, I like them and our team loves them. We feed off the energy.”
The noon start will not bother the Ducks.
“I played it last year with some of the guys. We had a couple noon starts this year at our tournament,” replied Brooks. “It’s nothing new. It’s getting up earlier and getting ready to play.”
At the end of the day, all Oregon is really playing for right now is seeding in the NCAA Tournament. Yet, the importance is immeasurable. With a top three seed, the Ducks would presumptively reside on the west for the first few rounds. An early round loss could spell disaster with UCLA and Arizona on their heels.
“The West is going to be decided by who wins the Pac-12,” Brooks said confidently. “Who stays here are the top three teams. We want to be that, so we have home fans and a lot of energy. We know what’s at stake. We’re trying to win out.”
Needless to say, Dillon Brooks is focused on the present day. He will prepare ONLY for his next opponent and not look ahead, no matter what. Champions are carved from his work ethic and mindset. Only time will tell how far it takes this legendary Oregon team.
The Ducks (27-4, 16-2 Pac-12) will test No. 8 Arizona State (15-17, 7-11 Pac-12) from the outset of Game No. 5 at the Pac-12 Tournament. Tip is set for noon PCT on Thursday afternoon from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Set your calendar.