It was a bit of a homecoming Monday for MarShon Brooks, as the former Providence College guard was introduced to the media as the top draft-day acquisition of the New Jersey Nets.
Although Brooks spent most of his adolescent years in Georgia, he was born in nearby Long Branch, N.J., and has fond memories of his days in the Garden State.
"I always visited my grandmother in Long Branch and remember playing basketball at Monmouth (University) when I was young," Brooks said. "So, I'm a Jersey boy at heart."
The 6-foot-5 Brooks, who was the Big East's leading scorer and was No. 2 overall in the country, averaging 24.6 points per contest, was taken by the Boston Celtics with the No. 25 pick of the first round. He was then shipped to the Nets in exchange for New Jersey's first-round pick, JaJuan Johnson of Purdue, and a 2013 second-round selection.
Brooks had no problem going from the Celtics to the Nets in a matter of minutes during last Thursday night's NBA draft.
"I'm excited to be here and I know I'm going to get a chance to play right away," Brooks said. "I can provide energy, because I have a lot of energy and I can score. I'm a scorer who can shoot. I get to the rim better than most. (But) I need to improve my shooting."
Brooks said that when he first thought of getting taken by the Nets, his eyes lit up with the idea of playing with an NBA All-Star point guard like Deron Williams.
"He's going to make life easier for me," Brooks said. "I look forward to getting on the floor with him."
Brooks will get that chance Tuesday, as he plans to workout with Williams at a training facility in California.
The teams can't conduct official workouts due to the pending lockout situation in the NBA, but Williams agreed to work with both Brooks and one of the Nets' second-round selections, forward Jordan Williams of Maryland.
"We're going to give them a workout plan to follow over the summer," Nets general manager Billy King said. "This will give us a chance to see where they are strength-wise."
Brooks believes that he can handle the ball better than most shooting guards and admits that he needs to work on his defensive side.
"But I've played mostly against small forwards in college," he said. "I'm looking forward to facing guys my own size. I know I have to be ready to go, because no one knows when the current situation will be over. Right now, I'm a little scared, because I don't know how I'm going to handle going up against NBA guys in NBA workouts."
Bojan Bogdanovic, a 6-foot-7 shooting guard/small forward from Croatia acquired in a deal with Minnesota after he was taken No. 31, was also in attendance Monday, but it may be a while before he's seen in a Nets uniform.
Bogdanovic, who averaged 18 points per game for Cibona in the Adriatic and Croatian Leagues last year, just signed a deal to play for Fenerbache Istanbul of the Turkish League.
"I didn't expect to be drafted, because I signed the three-year contract before the draft," Bogdanovic said. "It's good for me to play in the high-level Euro league. It's going to be a great experience for me. Like all young players, I have a lot to improve on."
The Nets can try to buy out Bogdanovic's contract after the first year of the deal, but it could be longer before he joins the NBA.
They have more immediate plans for the 6-10 Jordan Williams, who isn't the first power forward taken by the Nets out of Maryland.
Buck Williams, also a former Terrapin, was the Nets' first pick of the 1981 draft, and spent nine seasons in New Jersey. He is still the franchise's all-time leading scorer (10,440 points) and rebounder (7,576 rebounds).
"I'm going to try to do what he did," said the younger Williams, who averaged 16.9 points and 11.8 rebounds for Maryland last season. "I'm very familiar with what Buck Williams did. He was an incredible player and a great influence on my game. I couldn't be happier being here and getting a chance to do what he did. I'm excited that they wanted a rebounder and I'm going to get a shot to prove myself.
"I couldn't ask for much better than this."