It’ll be more than an in-state Final Four showdown when No. 1 Baylor meets second-seeded Houston with a spot in the national championship game on the line Saturday night in Indianapolis.
The national semifinal will also feature father against son, Houston assistant coach Alvin Brooks and Baylor assistant coach Alvin Brooks III. Between the two, they have 52 years of coaching experience, but this will obviously be a first.
“It’s hard to get here,” Brooks said on a Zoom call with his father. “But then to get to the Final Four in the same year and then play each other in the first semifinal is amazing, unbelievable.”
He added: “Whoever imagined we would both be there at the other end of each other’s bench?”
The elder Brooks, 61, has been a coach since his playing days at Lamar ended in 1981, working at his alma mater, Houston, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, UTEP, Kentucky and North Texas. His son followed him, getting his start in 2004 after playing for Idaho State. But he had to prove to his dad he was serious first. One day, he called him about the profession, wanting to quit his job in finance after spending a few months with close friend and NBA player Rashard Lewis.
“Call me back in two weeks,” his father told him.
“I wasn’t sure he was in love with coaching,” the elder Brooks said.
Brooks III, 41, actually had an opportunity to jump into coaching immediately at the Division I level through a friend of his father’s, but Brooks wouldn’t allow it. He wanted to make sure his son was truly invested. So he told him to start out at the junior college ranks. The elder Brooks expected a call saying how difficult it was.
But a few weeks later, his son couldn’t stop talking about how much he was enjoying himself. He went from Arkansas-Fort Smith to Midland College in Texas before Division I stints at Bradley, Sam Houston State and Kansas State. In 2016, he landed at Baylor.
They have faced each other twice before, with the elder Brooks winning the previous two meetings when Brooks III was at Sam Houston State. A niece is making T-shirts that will be half-red and half-green as a way of showing family pride without picking a side.
The two have frequently talked during this tournament run, but the next few days will be different. There is a Final Four game to be won. Dialogue will be at a minimum.
“It’s all love, but he’s as competitive as I am,” the elder Brooks said.