For eight years, Darrell Brooks sat on the sidelines at the Smith Center as a men’s basketball assistant coach for GW. Saturday, Brooks was back at the Smith Center, this time as the enemy: the head coach of GW’s exhibition game opponent, Bowie State.
For Brooks, Saturday’s exhibition game against his former team was a homecoming. The second-year Bulldogs head coach and Bowie State alumnus was a widely respected assistant coach at GW and a major factor in the Colonials’ success in the mid-2000s. Brooks still wears one of the championship rings he won in Foggy Bottom, and GW still holds a place in his heart.
“I walked to the home bench first,” Brooks said after his team’s 82-64 loss Saturday. “They had to point me to the visitor’s bench. But it was a special feeling. This is my second home. Bowie State’s my alma mater, but GW is my second home.”
Brooks credits his time on GW head coach Karl Hobbs’ staff as being critical in his development.
“After eight years, I picked up a lot here,” Brooks explained. “One of the things coach Hobbs does with his assistants is that he allows you to coach, he allows you to grow. While I was here, he gave me a lot of opportunities to do things and think as a head coach would.”
The admiration Brooks has for Hobbs goes both ways. Hobbs, buoyed by GW’s decisive victory Saturday, still made sure to emphasize the strong bond between the two coaches. Beating his former assistant didn’t bring the GW head coach much joy, Hobbs said, but he knew that the reunion would be beneficial for both programs.
“It was one of those games that I most certainly don’t like to play but I felt it was important for his program. He’s family as far as I’m concerned,” Hobbs said. “If it was a regular season game, a game that was going on the record, it would be a little bit more painful for me [to face Brooks]. But because it was an exhibition game, we’re just trying to work on things and get our teams ready for the season, it’s a positive.”
Brooks echoed Hobbs’ sentiments, calling the GW head coach one of his “very, very close friends.” The two shared a pregame hug on the court, and it was evident throughout the day Saturday that Brooks considers his experience with GW and the years he spent working under Hobbs vital to his professional development.
“Obviously, I was an assistant here and I suggested the shots but I didn’t call them, and at Bowie State I call the shots,” Brooks said. “That’s a big difference right there, knowing that you’re the guy in the first chair and eventually it all comes to you.”
It’s a difference, however, that he feels Hobbs prepared him for.
“He gave me a terrific opportunity 10 years ago to come here and help him build a very special program that you guys have here. It was a special opportunity he gave me and I really learned a lot over the eight years,” Brooks said.