Pierre Brooks thinks his Detroit Douglass team is one of the most talented he’s coached in the last 20 years, a big statement since he guided Detroit King to the Detroit Public School League championship in 2012.
Brooks has a right to feel optimistic and confident about Douglass since his son, Pierre Brooks II, is a dominant player as a junior and taking advantage of a solid supporting cast.
Brooks has guided Douglass to a 6-1 start and No. 10 ranking in The Detroit News Super 20 heading into Friday’s showdown at No. 15 Detroit King (7-2).
No. 9 Detroit Cass Tech, the defending PSL champion, will play host to Detroit Renaissance on Friday in a rematch of last year’s title game.
Brooks II also thinks Douglass has the talent to win the PSL and state titles.
“I think we can win both the city and state championships,” Brooks II said. “With this group of guys, I feel we can go far in the state tournament, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the season looks like. I think we have all the pieces — big guys, shooters and all-around players.
“I’m looking forward to playing King, since my daddy used to coach there; it’s kind of like a revenge game. They have a great group of guys and a great coach.”
And to think Brooks II had originally planned to play at U-D Jesuit, then decided to play for his father instead. This is Brooks’ sixth season as head coach at Douglass.
“I had a lot of choices of schools I wanted to go to — I was actually going to go to U-D — but I chose to stay with him because I knew he would be the best option for me, and as you can see I’ve gotten a lot of attention playing for him,” Brooks II said of his father. “He’s always hard on me. I think he just wants the best for me and I appreciate it.”
Douglass has a 6-foot-9 post player in junior Javante Randle, who has an offer from Detroit Mercy; 6-4 Donivan Peoples, who showed his perimeter shooting ability in Saturday’s 63-55 win over Saline in the Fastbreak Invitational at Belleville, making three 3-pointers; along with slasher Zavion McClendon, who can get to the basket.
“Last year we were kind of young, and we brought in some guys to really help us in different areas because in Pierre’s freshman year we really struggled,” Brooks said. “Now we have a supporting cast around him.
“This is one of the best teams I’ve had in my 20 years of coaching in the PSL, top to bottom. So I think just based on our chemistry and how well we jell and the farther we get I think we’ll have a real shot in the city and the state.
“Donivan Peoples and Zavion McClendon transferred from Warren Woods Tower, and I would say in one year’s time, it’s probably the most improvement I’ve seen in two players in their all-around game. Zavion is averaging 21 points and Donivan is averaging 15 points and they’ve become more all-around players where they were labeled as just shooters, so that speaks to their hard work and dedication in the gym.
“And then our big fella, Javante Randle, has really developed, playing well and doing a great job in his role as rim protector, blocking shots and rebounding.”
Brooks appreciates his son’s ability as a facilitator.
“I think he’s unselfish by nature and that’s going to help us as a team,” Brooks said. “I think he can dominate games when he wants to, but it makes us a better team when he’s able to do the things that helps us win, which is defense, rebounding and sharing the ball.”
Brooks II, a 6-4 point guard, definitely runs the show, averaging 26.8 points, seven rebounds and three assists, including 20 points in the win over Saline, 16 coming in the first half when Douglass held a 31-20 lead.
Brooks II says he has seen the most improvement in his jumper.
“My mechanics are way better than it used to be,” Brooks II said.
Brooks II has offers from multiple national powers, including No. 6 Butler and No. 8 Michigan State, with Michigan being his latest offer when Juwan Howard attended a Douglass practice Monday, then huddled with Brooks and his son and offered Brooks II a scholarship.
“I like Michigan State, Arizona State, Xavier, Missouri, Iowa, Butler — my recruitment has gotten wild,” said Brooks II, who started receiving interest from MSU while in the eighth grade. “My latest offer is Michigan. It’s crazy that a legend like that (Howard) wants me to come and play for him.”
Girls PSL outlook
Detroit Mumford entered the season as the two-time defending PSL champ with an experienced group returning.
Mumford defeated Detroit King in last year’s PSL title game.
Detroit Renaissance is led by its talented junior trio of point guard Kailee Davis, post player Shannon Wheeler and forward Nika Dorsey, with each of them owning multiple Division 1 offers.
Renaissance will play host to Mumford on Monday, while King plays at Denby.
King is guided by first-year coach Willie Riley, who was William Winfield’s longtime assistant in the 1990s and early 2000s before moving on to become head coach at Detroit St. Martin dePorres. He guided dePorres to the Class C state championship in 2004 and Detroit Community to a Class B state title game appearance in 2008.
Winfield led King to 12 state championship game appearances, earning five state titles. Gwen Burton replaced Winfield late in the 2018 season, then led King again last season before moving south this past fall to coach at Columbia State Community College in Tennessee.
Clarkston second-year coach Tim Wasilk has put together a tough non-conference schedule to prepare his team for the postseason.
Clarkston, ranked No. 4 by The News, will play Detroit King on Saturday at Ferndale as part of the Horatio Williams Freedom Classic.
Clarkston’s lone loss came at the hands of No. 1 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s. Clarkston also defeated No. 17 Flint Carman-Ainsworth in the GottaGetIt Hoop Classic Jan. 4 in Grand Blanc.
Clarkston 6-4 sophomore guard Fletcher Loyer is averaging a team-high 24.3 points, including 27 Friday in a 63-54 win over Oak Park to go 2-0 in the OAA Red.
Two of the top juniors in the state will go head-to-head with Jaden Akins and Farmington facing Brooks and Douglass in a game prior to the Clarkston-King game. Ferndale hosts Muskegon and Orchard Lake St. Mary’s and Wisconsin-bound guard Lorne Bowman play against Jalen Terry and Flint Beecher in the evening games.