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Originally published March 6, 2009 at 12:00 AM | Page modified March 6, 2009 at 5:57 PM

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Jon Brockman is the favorite son of Snohomish

Jon Brockman may be the most famous person in his hometown and a key to the Washington Huskies' hopes for their first outright Pac-10 championship in more than half a century. But friends and neighbors in Snohomish, his hometown, say they are proudest of his character, his work ethic and the team-first attitude that's reflected in his frequent visits home.

Times Snohomish County Reporter

Jon Brockman

College: Washington

Yr.: Sr. Position: Forward

Hometown: Snohomish

Ht.: 6-7 Wt.: 255

Major: Architectural studies/construction management

Noteworthy: UW's all-time top rebounder and fourth on career scoring list ... On midseason watch lists for the John R. Wooden Award and the Naismith Trophy, awards given to the nation's outstanding men's basketball player ... Has 58 career "double-doubles" (at least 10 in a game in two of four statistical categories — points, rebounds, assists, steals), the national leader among active players.

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SNOHOMISH — There is no shrine to Jon Brockman evident to visitors at the family home in Snohomish; no framed copy of the Sports Illustrated cover; no trophies or Pac-10 Player of the Week plaques.

The photos on public display are all of his family: sepia prints of grandparents and great-grandparents, the family backpacking in the Olympics. Brockman's high-school graduation portrait is next to those of his two older brothers and sister.

Only a small chalkboard in the kitchen gives any hint of the excitement swirling around the 22-year-old and the University of Washington men's basketball team. "Go Huskies!" it reads, and even that, deliberately, is all about the team. The family is content to keep the clippings and memorabilia from Brockman's basketball accomplishments in an upstairs bedroom he uses when at home.

Brockman may be the most famous person in his hometown and a key to the Huskies' hopes for their first outright Pac-10 championship in more than half a century. But friends and neighbors in this small town say they are proudest of his character, his work ethic and the team-first attitude that's reflected in his frequent visits home to help local kids.

Brockman says his father, Gordy Brockman, a former basketball player for Seattle Pacific University and his first coach, stressed on-court lessons that would translate into life: hard work, dependability, getting along.

"Ever since I was little, I can remember my dad saying you never win a game by yourself. You do it as a group," Brockman said.

His mother, Becky Brockman, echoes that sentiment. It's great that her son is ending his college career with at least a share of the Pac-10 championship, but basketball isn't all there is to life.

"It's all about using your talents to do good in the world," she said.

But keeping their son grounded is harder these days with the town's excitement over Brockman's role in the team's championship run. While plenty of Cougars fans and alumni live in Snohomish, Brockman's former high-school coach said the whole town is cheering for their native son, if not always for his team.

"Everybody's in on it. Everybody is following Jon's success," said Len Bone, Snohomish High School's boys basketball coach.

Snohomish, population 9,000, is a farm town turning suburb, the kind of place where family connections stretch back generations. Many teachers at Snohomish High are graduates. Many young people who move away for college or jobs move back when it's time to raise their families, he said.

The Brockmans were newcomers when they moved to town as a young couple. Becky Brockman started her teaching career in Snohomish 28 years ago and is now an elementary-school principal. Gordy Brockman is a vice principal at Snohomish High and has worked in the district nearly as long. They've had a hand in raising thousands of the valley's children and say the community helped raise theirs.

"This is a small town, a small community," Mayor Randy Hamlin said. "We all feel like Jon's part of the family."

Longtime residents of Snohomish watched Brockman grow up.

Jo Walker, who with her husband, Tom, runs a downtown Snohomish hair salon, said that the first time she saw Brockman, he was a little kid riding a trike full speed down a hill. He crashed into a tree to stop, and then pushed the trike back up the hill and did it again.

"Does that tell you anything about him under the basket?" asked Tom, a lifelong Snohomish resident who attends the Brockmans' church.

Bone, who played basketball with Brockman's father at SPU, moved next door with his own two sons when Jon was in third grade. Bone remembers intensely fought backyard baseball and basketball games, destroyed bikes and at least one screen door that Jon ran through.

"There was no half speed," he said. "In ninth grade, he'd be diving for a ball at practice. On a Saturday morning. At 8:30 a.m. Against the JV."

Brockman was a McDonald's All-America player as a high-school senior and one of the West Coast's most sought-after basketball players. He turned down an offer from perennial powerhouse Duke University because, he said, he believed in UW coach Lorenzo Romar and he wanted to play in front of family and friends.

Gary Doty, Brockman's high-school AAU coach, helped as Brockman practiced free throws at a Lake Stevens gym last summer. If there was a criticism of Brockman's play last year, it was his 52 percent free-throw shooting. He has improved to 64 percent this season.

At each session, Brockman had to make 500 free throws before he could go home. By summer's end, he had hit 11,400 of almost 14,000 for an 82 percent average.

"A lot of players can jump higher, but he's a tremendous worker," Doty said. "He's such a great rebounder because he goes after every ball. That comes from the heart."

Even as his schedule has become more demanding, Brockman continues to return home to work with young athletes. He led basketball drills at both his former high school and at the district's new high school, Glacier Peak.

He gave a talk at Bone's summer basketball camp for 40 to 50 elementary kids. Bone said he saves Brockman's appearance for the last day because once the Huskies' star shows up, "there goes camp."

"Not just the kids, but the moms, too. The cellphones come out. The kids want him to sign their arms, their shirts, their shoes."

On Sunday night, a day after the second of two gutsy, back-to-back victories over the Arizona schools, Brockman drove up from Seattle for dinner with his family.

His mom was out with his older sister Kirsten doing something every bit as exciting as watching Huskies hoops — shopping for a wedding dress. That left Jon and his dad to tend to three huge meatloaves in the oven. Gordy said one was for dinner and one would go toward sandwiches during the week. Jon was angling to take the third back to Seattle with him.

Brockman said he feels focused and ready for Saturday's game against Washington State, his final home game as a Husky. After the Saturday victory over Arizona, he said, he and fellow co-captain Justin Dentmon marveled that they'd worked toward this championship their entire lives.

"This is a dream come true. We're the players we used to look up to when we were little kids," Brockman said.

And still, he remembers where he's from.

In high school, Bone ran a drill called "flex," in which five players quickly rotated around the key, each playing every position, the shot going to the open man. Brockman said the drill "taught me a lot about teamwork."

Doty schooled him in rebounding. From Kirsten, 25, and brother Paul, 23, who both suffered injuries that ended their basketball careers during their first years of college, Brockman said he learned to play each game flat-out, as if it might be the last.

The Huskies on Saturday could claim their first outright conference championship since 1953 with a win over Washington State. A lot of the work under the basket will fall to Brockman. At 6 feet 7, he's shorter than many centers he guards.

His parents remind him that he won't do it alone, that his coaches and teammates are beside him, along with an entire town.

Lynn Thompson: 206-464-8305 or lthompson@seattletimes.com

Big man

on campus

Jon Brockman became the UW's all-time career rebounder on Jan. 15 vs. Oregon. He also is fourth on the school's career scoring list. He is the only UW player to surpass both 1,600 career points and 1,000 rebounds.
UW CAREER REBOUNDING
Player Years Reb.
Jon Brockman 2006- 1,219
Doug Smart 1957-59 1,051
Doug McClary 1951-53 997
Chris Welp 1984-87 995
UW CAREER SCORING
Player Years Pts.
Chris Welp 1984-87 2,073
Bob Houbregs 1951-53 1,774
Todd MacCulloch 1996-99 1,743
Jon Brockman 2006- 1,735

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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