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MIDWEST REGIONAL

Brooks now knows he made right choice

March 12, 2007|Robyn Norwood

There was a time last spring when Aaron Brooks wasn't sure he would return to Oregon for his senior season.

His girlfriend was pregnant, he hadn't had a very good season, and the Seattle native heaped hometown scorn on himself when he threw an elbow at Washington guard Ryan Appleby's mouth in last season's Pac-10 tournament, earning a two-game suspension that spilled over to this season.

But Brooks came back, and is he ever glad.

The high-flying Ducks are back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2003 after dominating the Pac-10 tournament, and Brooks led the conference in scoring at 18 points a game.

And oh, yes, things are good at home. His girlfriend, Shavonne Bland, gave birth to their daughter, MiKah, in May, and moved with Brooks from Seattle to Eugene, where he found that being a father made him a better player.

"Back then there was a lot of anxiety, conflict between families and stuff," he said. "That's all behind me."

Fatherhood, far from distracting Brooks, matured him. Changing diapers will do that.

"I can't wait to finish the season up and work even harder for next season," he said.

Brooks' pro future might seem limited by his 6-foot frame, but Arizona Coach Lute Olson calls him "next to impossible to handle, with his quickness."

Then there's his knack for game-winning shots.

Just ask UCLA.

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