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Nysier Brooks: An Appreciation

As Brooks moves on to the next phase of his career, let’s take a look back at the impact he made for the Bearcats.

NCAA Basketball: American Athletic Conference Tournament-Houston vs Cincinnati Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The Career Numbers

  • 4.4 points per game
  • 3.4 rebounds per game
  • 0.9 blocks per game
  • 56.8 true shooting percentage

Transferring is part of college athletics and sometimes players decide to move from programs where they had a lot of success. Nysier Brooks made that decision yesterday, opting to play out the rest of his collegiate career away from Cincinnati. During his three seasons with the Bearcats, the 6’11” senior from Philadelphia continually improved and became a critical contributor for a league championship winning team. The Bearcats will have to confront what to do in the wake of Brooks’ departure, but for now, let’s take a look back at what Brooks did for the program.

Brooks came to UC in 2016 as a three-star prospect and immediately carved out a niche for himself. Despite contending for minutes on a roster that already featured star players in the frontcourt like Gary Clark and Kyle Washington, Brooks still logged 8.5 minutes per game and was an absolute enforcer on defense, averaging 4.8 blocks per 100 possessions, which led the team by nearly two blocks. His rebounding work was a little less pronounced, but at a 11.1 percent rate, he ranked fourth on the team among players with at least 50 minutes played. Despite all that solid production, Brooks still had work to do, especially on offense. He wasn’t exactly tasked with being a volume scorer and did post a 54.9 true shooting percentage, but his offensive rating (99.2) indicated that he was just below average offensively.

As a sophomore, Brooks played a similar role as he did as a freshman, serving as a primary backup for Clark and Washington. His share of minutes improved (9.7 per game) and his efficiency on defense got even better. Despite blocking fewer shots, he posted a defensive rating of 85.3, ranking second only to Clark. He also took a step forward on the boards, with a 13.5 percent total rebound rate. Unfortunately, his offensive game regressed heavily. Even though he did most of his offensive work from inside the paint, Brooks shot just 49.4 percent from the floor and had an offensive rating of 98.9. Thanks to Clark and Washington, the Bearcats didn’t need a lot of extra frontcourt scoring and still won the American Athletic Conference, so they could afford another year of development from Brooks.

Entering this past season, however, Brooks became a starter for the first time of his career and that meant he needed to be better offensively right away. He accomplished that goal pretty well. Part of it had to do with opportunity. He averaged a career-high 5.3 field goal attempts per game and scored in double figures 13 times, surpassing his total of one in the two years prior. It wasn’t just more shots, however. Brooks got better at finishing around the rim, with improved footwork and touch on his post shots. He posted carer-highs in offensive rating (121.6) player efficiency rating (21.0), true shooting percentage (56.8 percent) and effective field goal percentage (53.5 percent) and even upped his game from the foul line.

All of that offensive progression went hand-in-hand with the same level of defensive dominance that we had come to expect. His defensive rating (94.6) led all starters and he blocked 1.5 shots per game on a team-best block rate of 8.4 percent, ranking third in the AAC in both categories. In addition to his rim protection, Brooks finally became the rebounding leader the Bearcats needed him to be. He led all starters in rebound rate (16.5 percent) and his offensive rebound work was better than anyone else in the conference.

The Best of the Best

Nov. 23, 2016 vs. Samford

This was just the fifth game of Brooks’ career and he tallied 10 points, four rebounds and three blocks.

Jan. 15, 2017 at East Carolina

Even though he only played 13 minutes, Brooks blocked five shots. That’s some efficient rim protection.

Nov. 13, 2017 vs. Western Carolina

I guess directional Carolinas should look out because Brooks came through with a then career-high eight rebounds in 12 minutes of work.

Nov. 27, 2017 vs. Alabama State

This was a rare game where Brooks made more impact on offense than defense, scoring nine points on 3-of-3 shooting and a 3-for-6 effort from the foul line.

Jan. 13, 2018 at USF

Once again, Brooks packed a lot into very little playing time, with six points and two blocks in nine minutes.

Jan. 20, 2018 vs. East Carolina

What did I tell you? Brooks posted eight points and five rebounds against the Pirates.

Nov. 16, 2018 vs. Milwaukee

For the first time in his career, Brooks posted a double-double with 12 points on 5-of-5 shooting and 10 rebounds along with two blocks.

Nov. 19, 2018 vs. Western Michigan

Brooks must have enjoyed the double-double because in the next game he had 15 points, 10 rebounds and two more blocks.

Dec. 19, 2018 vs. UCLA

Everyone played great against the Bruins, including Brooks, who recorded 14 points, six rebounds, three assists and two blocks.

Dec. 22, 2018 vs. South Carolina State

Brooks had a career-high 17 points and eight rebounds in the final game of 2018.

Jan. 12, 2019 vs. UConn

Brooks matched that career-high with 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting and contributed six rebounds and two blocks along the way.

March 2, 2019 vs. Memphis

After producing eight points (on 3-of-12 shooting) and 12 rebounds in the game before this, Brooks put it all together and had 13 points and 12 boards in this win.

March 16, 2019 vs. Wichita State

Despite fouling out in this AAC tourney matchup, Brooks had enough time to tally 13 points and nine rebounds, although he did go just 3-for-8 at the foul line.

A Final Goodbye

As Brooks takes the next step in his collegiate career, it’s difficult not to wonder what might have been had he stayed at UC for his senior year. He had already sharpened his defensive game and with continued improvements on offense, he really could have taken another step forward at Fifth Third Arena. Now he’ll just be making those adjustments for a new team, but we should all appreciate the ones he made while he was playing for the Bearcats.