HOUSTON – Houston Rockets guard Armoni Brooks feels at home in the gym. He feels at home in Houston. Suffice to say - he feels at home in a gym in Houston.
At some point during his three-year career with the Houston Cougars, the team convinced him his best shot at his childhood dream of the NBA would be as a shooter. Brooks took the idea to heart.
“Long nights on the gun,” Brooks said. “I can’t tell you how many nights in college over the summer I shot 1,000 shots on the gun.”
Brooks estimates he would take more than 100,000 shots every summer perfecting his stroke.
After averaging 13.4 points while hitting 39% of his threes as a junior, Brooks took the advice of his former agent to go pro. He went undrafted.
“We sat there through the entire draft,” said his father, Delvin Brooks. “And I saw my son get his heart broken.”
“Immediately after the draft, I was upset about it because that’s your goal to get your name called,” Armoni said. “That’s what you live for as a kid. Not to hear it was a big shock for me. All it did was wake me up and I thought this can’t be the end of my journey.”
The Washington Wizards picked Brooks up for summer league, but he struggled. Then, he caught on with the College Park Skyhawks, the G-League affiliate of the Atlanta Hawks. A call-up never happened, and COVID-19 shutdowns made things more difficult.
His old agency signed a deal for Brooks in New Zealand, and he was set to fly there in April of 2021.
“That morning we dropped him off at the airport was I think the hardest day of our lives,” said his mother, Anganika Brooks.
While Brooks was in the air between Austin and Houston, his current agent, E.J. Kusnyer of Beyond Athlete Management, was on the phone with the Houston Rockets. When Brooks landed in Los Angeles for his layover, the deal was done. Kusnyer called him with the news, but it happened to be April 1st, and Brooks didn’t believe Kusnyer right away.
“He told me you have to get back on the plane to get back to Houston,” Brooks said. “I told him ‘E.J. if you’re playing with me, don’t be playing with me, this isn’t something you play about! I just started crying on the phone with him and they sent me the plane ticket and I flew back to Houston.”
When he called his parents, they didn’t believe it either.
“I thought he was playing,” Anganika said. “I told him I’m too emotionally upset for him to be playing and he told me the Houston Rockets signed him to a two-way (contract) and I just screamed.”
Brooks immediately made an impact, hitting an NBA-record 47 threes in his first 17 games as a rookie, beating Damian Lillard’s old mark of 43. Brooks also holds the league’s 3-point record for 18, 19 and 20 games.
He finished the season hitting 60 threes in 20 games for the Rockets, averaging 11.2 points per game.
During the offseason, the Rockets wanted to keep their options open and Brooks signed an Exhibit-10 deal as a way for Houston to decide who they wanted to give their last spot to.
During summer league, Brooks stood out as one of the best players on the floor, and that Exhibit 10 turned into a two-way deal.
The next morning, the Rockets decided they wanted to keep Brooks long term and signed him to a 4-year, $7.2 million deal.
Brooks has rewarded the Rockets with extended minutes during Houston’s recent 7-game win streak. During the past 10 games, when Brooks was put into the rotation, the Rockets are 7-3 while Brooks has scored 12.2 points per game while shooting 38.5 percent from three while making three shots behind the arc per game - the same rate as he had in 2020-21.
“I knew I was going to fight and I didn’t back away from it,” Brooks said. “I’m continuously fighting to prove myself day in, day out.”
Armoni Brooks feels at home in the gym. He feels at home in Houston. Suffice to say - he feels at home in a gym in Houston.