SNOHOMISH — After starring at the University of Washington, playing in the NBA and venturing overseas for the final segment of his career as a player, Jon Brockman has returned to the place where his basketball journey began.
The former Snohomish High School standout, one of the most successful athletes in county history, is serving as a volunteer coach for the Panthers boys basketball program this season.
Brockman, 29, spent the previous four seasons in Europe — playing two seasons in France and two more in Germany. He decided to hang up his sneakers after last season, but knew he wanted to stay involved with the game.
“It felt like for me it was time to call playing quits and move on to something else,” Brockman said. “But I knew I wanted to be around the game and still be involved somehow. It’s been really fun being back in the gym that I played in (during) high school … and being a part of the program.”
Brockman had stayed in contact over the years with members of the Snohomish coaching staff, including first-year head coach Jim Wilson, who was the C-team coach when Brockman played for the Panthers. Over the summer, Brockman ran into current C-team coach David Larson and pitched the idea of volunteering.
Snohomish was more than happy to bring him aboard, and Brockman has been enjoying the opportunity.
“I get to go hang out with the guys and just help out at practice doing whatever coach Wilson needs me to do,” Brockman said. “I’ve kind of bounced around from varsity, JV and C-team. Whenever I see something that needs to be changed or something that can help the guys, I let them know. I’ve been really enjoying it.”
Added Wilson: “It brings a lot of excitement to the program to have a guy that is probably the best player that’s ever played at Snohomish High School. So the kids are excited about him being there and … he’s just had a great influence on the kids. Anybody that watched him play knows he played extremely hard, so (it’s pretty tough) for the kids not to buy in to what he’s saying.”
Brockman, a 2005 Snohomish graduate, was a McDonald’s All-American who earned Associated Press state player of the year honors as a senior after averaging 30.2 points and 14 rebounds per game. He led the Panthers to three Class 4A state tournament appearances in four seasons and was twice named The Herald’s Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
After turning down perennial powerhouse Duke to play college basketball for the hometown Huskies, Brockman compiled a record-setting career at Washington, finishing as the all-time leading rebounder and second-leading scorer in program history. The 6-foot-7 power forward helped UW reach the Sweet 16 in his freshman season and as a senior led the Huskies to the Pac-10 regular-season title — the program’s first outright conference championship in more than half a century.
Brockman was selected 38th overall in the 2009 NBA draft and spent three seasons in the league — one with Sacramento and two with Milwaukee — before playing four seasons in Europe.
“It’s been amazing,” Brockman said of his basketball journey. “It definitely hasn’t been exactly what I had envisioned. I think a lot of times we build things up in our mind and think they’re going to be one way, and then when we get there, it’s a whole lot different. As a kid, I probably would’ve said (that) I plan on playing in the NBA for 20 years and just doing that my entire life.
“But life just kind of changes and takes some wild turns, and I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything. It was definitely difficult through some times, but being able to explore the world the way I have and see all the different countries and the different people — I’ll never get to do that again the way I did the last few years. So it was just an unbelievable experience.”
Brockman, who’s living with his wife in Lake Stevens, said he’s currently trying to figure out his next step in life. The couple has dreams of living on a farm one day, but for right now, Brockman said, he’s enjoying being home and spending time with friends and family.
Whatever Brockman’s future holds, there’s a good chance basketball will remain part of the equation.
“Basketball’s given me a ton,” he said. “It’s helped me out in numerous ways. I’m just so thankful for the people that are in my life because of basketball, and I guess I’m kind of ready to start giving back.
“I’ve had a ton of coaches who, all throughout my career, have spent time and effort coaching me and training me. And I’d really like to give that back and kind of do the same for the youth that are coming up today.”