Tookie will make it

By Justin Hubbard

 

Last Wednesday, I did something I often do: I scrolled through my Twitter feed.

I came across a lot of unsurprising things. There was a bunch of chatter about the Loyola-Chicago men’s basketball team and its furious supporter, Sister Jean. The latest news out of Washington trickled out to the Twittersphere.

But that day, there was some different news on my feed. Just like with that other stuff, I wasn’t the least bit surprised to see it.

Tookie Brown, the former Morgan County superstar point guard, announced his decision to enter the 2018 NBA Draft.

Since leaving Madison, Tookie has, as I’m sure most of you are aware, made a name for himself as part of the Georgia Southern men’s basketball team. He’s a three-time All-Sun Belt first-team nominee – the first in Eagles history to earn that distinction three-straight years – and he’s had a handful of highlight plays featured on ESPN.

When Tookie announced his declaration for the draft, he mentioned how he endured a process to reach that conclusion. He spent the past several months talking to his family and coaches, including Eagles head coach Mark Byington, about his options.

I spoke to Tookie earlier this week for a story you can find on page C1 inside this week’s paper. He told me the biggest thing he focused on during this past season was honing his skills. Tookie and Byington both believed if he sharpened up on a few things, he would be ready for the NBA.

So, here we are. Tookie is going to try his hand at professional basketball. The good news is even if no teams draft him, he will still be able to return to Georgia Southern for his senior year because he did not hire an agent. In other words, this is a win-win situation for Tookie.

And I think he will win big.

Unfortunately, I got to Lake Oconee News too late to witness Tookie’s high school career firsthand. When he was tearing it up in the Reeves-Sims Arena (I’m not letting that go), I was struggling through college statistics, microeconomics and Spanish.

I have heard from many people, including friends, Madison community members and Michael Stone, our current associate editor and then-sports editor, about the ridiculous plays Tookie made in a Bulldogs uniform. I’ve heard about how he could take over games with a Kobe Bryant-like demeanor and lead Morgan to victory.

Years ago, I saw it for myself when Tookie was barely a teenager. My younger brother, Phillip, played a couple of years of recreation department basketball in Greensboro. He and Tookie were on a team together one year and opposed each other the next.

I knew very little about basketball back then. I’d never really watched the sport and only knew of Michael Jordan and Kobe.

What I did know, though, was this: Tookie was special.

There were many kids on those rec teams who thought they were the you-know-what. Many parents thought their kids were the you-know-what, too.

Only one of those players was actually the you-know-what, and it was Tookie. He could score at will, even at such a young age. And I’m not talking about short-range jumpers – he could hit shots from downtown Union Point.

I knew the kid was good. Because my brother got to play alongside him, I knew he had a humble personality to match.

Tookie’s killer instincts were on display back then as well. Phillip recently told me about a game during which their coach called a timeout. The team was down by 1 point or so with only a few seconds left to drive down the court. The coach looked around the huddle and asked if any of the kids had the guts to attempt a last-second shot.

Only Tookie said “yes.”

That determination and self-confidence carried Tookie throughout his basketball career. It’s what made him a star in Madison. It’s what put him on the map in Statesboro.

Sooner than later, it’s what will make him a successful professional basketball player.

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