On any given night, you can see Washington Huskies’ forward Jon Brockman bumping, banging, and bruising opponents on his way to a double-double. At 6'7" and 260 pounds, he out-rebounds, out-scores, and all-together out-hustles bigger posts on a nightly basis.
The senior is averaging a double-double for his second straight season. He has led the Huskies to the top of the Pac-10 and is an All-American candidate.
There is no doubt that Brockman is a phenomenal college basketball player, but unfortunately, his game does not project to the NBA.
Brockman is a below-the-rim player. He is not an explosive NBA athlete like Detroit Pistons' forward Jason Maxiell, who is also 6'7" and 260 pounds. For a player who relies on banging for production, thus drawing a lot of fouls, he shoots a miserable 54 percent from the stripe.
Sure there are professional basketball opportunities for Brockman in Europe and possibly the NBDL, but are there more promising opportunities for him in professional athletics?
Welcome to the NFL.
Today, analysts and reporters have quit referring to Antonio Gates as “the former college basketball player” and they have replaced it with “Pro Bowler” and “All-Pro." Let's not forget that Gates was an undrafted free agent in 2003, after an impressive March Madness performance with the Kent State Men's Basketball Team.
Gates and Brockman are not spitting images; Gates is several inches shorter and appears more muscular. On the basketball court, they are both men amongst boys though, using their combination of strength, size, and coordination to out-produce more stereotypical ballers.
When NBA scouts watch Brockman play, they note his hustle and how well he gets down the court for a player his size. They are impressed with his ability to track rebounds before they even hit the rim and he will out-tip more athletic players for tough rebounds. He has soft hands and can catch entry passes from any angle, and can catch-and-finish on the break.
It's hard to determine exactly how athletic Brockman is as he goes against future-NBA leapers in college, but I am convinced with a few months of training he could post a 4.6 to 4.75 second 40 time and a vertical leap over 34 inches.
Brockman would not be the first college hooper since Gates to go to the NFL. In 2005, the Denver Broncos signed rookie free agent Wesley Duke, who played his college basketball at Mercer University.
Duke was more of a wide receiver/tight end hybrid at 6'5", 225 pounds with elite jumping ability. He finished the 2005 season having played in three games, catching two passes for 22 yards with one touchdown.
Brockman may not make the case to be drafted, but he is a more successful college basketball player than Gates or Duke, and he has serious NFL potential.
New York Giants' tight end Kevin Boss, who was undrafted in 2007, played football and basketball at Western Oregon. Tony Gonzalez played both football and basketball at Cal.
The skills between basketball players and tight ends relate so well that giving Brockman a shot is worth the roster spot, and maybe even the draft pick.