Brooks gives back to UCI

Scott Brooks Golf Invitational

Former 'Eaters' star, now an NBA head coach, lends name to golf tournament to fund scholarships at school.

September 21, 2011|By Barry Faulkner
(Kevin Chang / Daily…)

IRVINE — When UC Irvine supporters approached Scott Brooks about lending his name to a golf tournament to raise money for the school's athletic department, it likely had more to do with the cachet the Oklahoma City Thunder coach who starred for UCI in the mid 1980s could add to the event.

As it turns out, there is, perhaps, no former student-athlete who can better appreciate the power and possibility of a single scholarship than Brooks.

Though he led the West Coast in scoring at 23.8 points per game as a UCI senior and went on to play 11 seasons for six teams in the NBA, Brooks' basketball road might have ended in 1985 as a sophomore point guard at San Joaquin Delta Community College.

Brooks, who played as a freshman at Texas Christian University, but transferred to the Stockton-based JC program because he was homesick and missed California, helped lead Delta to the No. 1 seed in the 16-team state tournament held at Selland Arena in Fresno.


As the No. 1 seed, Delta played Riverside in the opening round's final game, late at night.

Then-UC Irvine Coach Bill Mulligan had long since left the arena by the time Brooks took the court, but not until he received a recommendation about Brooks from then-TCU coach Jim Killingsworth, with whom he sat in the stands.

Delta was upset by Riverside that night, and Brooks said he was surprised anew the following day to hear from Mulligan.

"He called me and gave me a scholarship offer without ever having even seen me play," Brooks said. "No one was offering me a scholarship other than Irvine."

It was yet another chance that Brooks seized. It provided not only a great two years at UCI, but a springboard to what Brooks hopes is a lifetime in the game.

"I wouldn't be here [without that scholarship offer]," Brooks said Wednesday at Oak Creek Golf Club in Irvine, where 138 tournament entries provided proceeds in exchange for a day of golf, a chance to meet UCI coaches and athletes, and a photo of their foursome with Brooks. "I would not have been an NBA player or an NBA coach. I was the youngest of seven kids and I would not have been able to go to college without an athletic scholarship."

Brooks said he has always been proud of his heritage with the Anteaters and was always anxious to give back. When a memorial service was held for Mulligan in 2010, Brooks was at the Bren Events Center at 10:30 a.m., despite having coached an NBA game in Oakland the night before.

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