John Werner Waco Tribune
INDIANAPOLIS — When Baylor faces Houston in Saturday’s Final Four at Lucas Oil Stadium, the Brooks family will be wearing T-shirts colored half green and half red.
Alvin Brooks III is a fifth-year assistant coach for the Bears. His father, Alvin Brooks, has been on the Cougars’ coaching staff for the last 11 years after a previous five-year stint as the program’s head coach in the 1990s.
Alvin is pretty sure most of the family will be cheering for his son.
“What happens is because Al is the loved and beloved son, he always gets preferential treatment,” Alvin Brooks said.
“Whenever they have the ball, they are going to be cheering wildly for Baylor. Although I will get some love when we have the basketball and we are on defense.”
Alvin Brooks III believes his mother, Richelle, will side with the Cougars.
“I think she’ll be wearing red,” Alvin III said. “But we’ll see.”
Regardless of which team draws the most cheers, it’s a unique time for the Brooks family.
The Bears are making their first Final Four appearance since 1950 after beating Arkansas, 81-72, in the South region final on Monday night. The Cougars are making their first Final Four appearance since the Phi Slama Jama days in 1984 after knocking off Oregon State, 67-61, in the Midwest region finals. Both father and son saw a potential Final Four matchup on Selection Sunday when the Bears earned the No. 1 seed in the South and Houston was chosen the No. 2 seed in the Midwest. But neither coach wanted to look too far ahead because they each had to win four NCAA tournament games to make the Final Four.
“We talked if he made it to the Final Four, I would be at his game, and if I made it, he’d be at my game,” Alvin Brooks said. “Whoever imagined we would both be there at the other end of each other’s bench? It’s surreal.”
This won’t be the first time they’ve been on opposing sidelines as coaches since Houston beat Sam Houston twice when Alvin III was a Bearkats assistant from 2010-12. “Officially I’m 0-2,” Alvin III said. “But if you count the game at Baylor when we scrimmaged, I’m 0-3 unofficially. Obviously meeting in the Final Four is a blessing.” Now 41, Alvin III grew up watching his father coach at different stops. Following his playing days at Lamar, Alvin was an assistant at his alma mater from 1981-86 before becoming an assistant at Houston for seven years. He was promoted to the Cougars’ head coach in 1993 and compiled a five-year record of 54-84. After assistant coaching stints at Texas Tech, North Texas, UTEP and Texas A&M, Alvin returned to Houston in 2010. He has served as an assistant under James Dickey for four seasons and Kelvin Sampson for the last seven years as the program has returned to national prominence with a Sweet 16 appearance in 2019 and this year’s Final Four berth. Sampson previously guided Oklahoma to the 2002 Final Four during his 12-year reign in Norman. After a two-year stint at Indiana, Sampson worked as an NBA assistant for the Milwaukee Bucks and Houston Rockets before returning to college coaching.
“When I look around at the banners, it’s crazy to think I’ve been part of tournament teams from three different decades at Houston,” Alvin said. “Coach Sampson had a great vision, and the culture has changed and we’ve become highly competitive. Now we’re going to the Final Four for the first time since 1984. To see where we came from to where we are now is truly amazing, and it’s a testament to coach Sampson and his staff.”
Following his playing days at Idaho State, Alvin III planned to be an agent for pro athletes after graduation in 2002.
“I was miserable, I was chasing money,” Alvin III said. “I thought I was going to manage athletes’ money and be a millionaire. I found out that wasn’t my calling.”
Alvin III spent time with his friend Rashard Lewis, who was playing for the Seattle SuperSonics, and realized how much he enjoyed being back around the game. He called his father to tell him that he wanted to go into coaching, but Alvin told him to take a while to think about it.
“He never pushed me to play a sport at all, and allowed me to grow into what I loved to do,” Alvin III said. “I actually never wanted to be a coach, and he never really brought me around the gym as much. He wanted me to be a kid and enjoy it originally. When I told him I wanted to be a coach, he said to call him back in two weeks. He definitely allowed me to create my own path.” Brooks encouraged his son to work his way up through the ranks before transitioning into coaching at an NCAA Division I school.
“He actually had an offer to a Division I school from a friend of mine initially, first coming out,” Alvin said. “I said, ‘No, he can’t accept that. He ain’t ready. He needs to go figure out what to do.’”
Alvin III’s coaching journey began in 2004 as an assistant at Arkansas-Fort Smith before jobs at Midland College, Bradley, Sam Houston State and Kansas State for a four-year run before Drew brought him to Baylor in 2016.
After Houston beat Oregon State, 67-61, to advance to the Final Four, Alvin III saw his father back at the teams’ downtown Indianapolis hotel early Sunday morning. The Bears had just cut down the nets following their 81-72 win over Arkansas in the Elite Eight.
“That moment will be a lifetime memory to see him walking with a Final Four hat on,” Alvin III said. “Normally, we’re both not emotional people. But I think we squeezed each other tighter than we have our whole life.”
Now father and son are getting a chance to coach against each other on college basketball’s biggest stage.
“It’s hard to get here,” Alvin said. “But then to get to the Final Four in the same year and then play each other in the first semifinal is unbelievable, amazing.”