SALEM, Va. — Vince Brookins Jr. now has some Final Four stories of his own to tell.
The son of one of the heroes of Iowa’s most recent run to the Final Four is a reserve guard on the Williams team which played Augustana on Friday at the NCAA Division III Final Four.
“This is a different level, but the experience is still something I’ll remember forever, just like my dad does,’’ said Brookins Jr., a 6-foot-2 freshman who has averaged around three minutes per game this season.
His father led the Hawkeyes in scoring as a senior in 1981 and was a part of three straight Hawkeye teams which reached the NCAA tourney between 1979-81.
His postseason highlight came in 1980, when Lute Olson opted to start him at power forward in place of Steve Waite in an Elite Eight match-up against Georgetown. Brookins responded with a 22-point effort and strong defensive performance which led Iowa to the Final Four.
“He’s always shared stories about what his experience at the Final Four was like and as I’ve gotten older, I think I appreciate it all more,’’ said the Twinsburg, Ohio, native who attended Western Reserve Academy.
“I’ve watched tapes of the Georgetown game and the national semifinal and early on, it was like ‘OK, that’s my dad playing college basketball.’ The past couple of years, I’ve grasped the magnitude of it all.’’
Vince Brookins was in the stands at the Salem Civic Center on Friday as Williams faced Augustana, enjoying the experience.
“It’s a great experience for the whole team and it takes a team to accomplish something like this,’’ Brookins said. “I’m proud of all of them. It’s a great moment and I’m sure they’re feeling the same jitters that I felt all those years ago. The memories will be there forever.’’
Once expecting baseball to be his sport, Vince Brookins Jr. credits his father with developing the passion for the game he now plays.
“Basketball was always the sport I struggled the most with, and that challenge is probably why I stuck with it,’’ he said. “My dad has always been there for me, helping me through the ups and downs. He’s not only helped with the technical end, but with the mental part of it. He’s a big reason I’m here now.’’
Brookins Jr. chose Williams for its academic reputation and its basketball. Friday’s game marked a record eighth appearance for the Ephs in the Division III semifinals.
He said the experience has been memorable and he welcomed the chance to share it all with his father, 37 years after he enjoyed his one Final Four moment.
“He’s pretty excited about this,’’ Vince Brookins Jr. said. “I heard from him right away after we advanced and I’m glad he’s here. I’m sure it brings back some memories for him and that’s awesome.’’