Nation’s best scorer won’t make tourney

The Jimmer and Kemba will be there. So will Nolan Smith, Jared Sullinger, Derrick Williams and just about all the elite scorers in the nation.

Except for Marshon Brooks.

It’s sad, almost tragic, that the man who put a Big East-record 52 points on the board Wednesday night against Notre Dame will be a spectator like the rest of us when the NCAA tournament rolls around.

Brooks will be the best scorer — no, make that the best player — in college basketball who won’t go dancing this year.

Believe it or not, Brooks’ 52 was actually done quietly.

"I’d agree with that,” Friars coach Keno Davis agreed. "It was done with ease.”

Brooks was an efficient 20 of 28 from the field, 6 of 10 from beyond the arc, and also had four assists and just one turnover.

It is the most prolific scoring performance in the 32-year history of the Big East.

This is a league that saw Chris Mullin and Patrick Ewing come through in the 1980s, Ray Allen and Allen Iverson in the ’90s and Carmelo Anthony and Rudy Gay in the past decade.

And the virtually anonymous Brooks has them all beat.

"I think he’s the best scorer in the country,” Notre Dame’s fifth-year senior Ben Hansbrough said.

Jimmer Fredette put a 47-spot at Utah and went for 43 in Provo against San Diego State.

Brooks, who is second in the country in scoring behind The Jimmer, finished with 52 against No. 9 Notre Dame and had 43 a few weeks ago against another Top 25 team in Georgetown.

"We tried everything,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. "Everything.”

Box-and-one.

Trapped out of their zone.

Double-teamed.

None of it worked.

Brooks scored from beyond the arc, in the paint, from mid-range, off-the-dribble, coming off screens, posting up and anything and everything else you can imagine.

"I honestly didn’t notice it until I had 45,” Brooks said. "I couldn’t believe it.”

Brooks scored 52 of his team’s 93 points, which should have been enough to pull the upset over Notre Dame. However, the problem is the Friars allowed 94, and Brooks’ desperation three-pointer from beyond halfcourt was off the mark.

That’s five consecutive losses for Providence, which falls to 14-14 overall and 3-12 in Big East play.

"It’s tough,” Brooks said. "Obviously, my dream is to make the NCAA tournament, but I knew it would be tough with all of our freshmen.”

Brooks arrived in Providence as a virtual unknown and has continued to play in relative obscurity. The Georgia native was recruited by Tennessee Tech and Kennesaw State, played in just 18 games as a freshman with the Friars and averaged 3.0 points per game.

There was no hype prior to this season. In fact, Brooks didn’t even earn preseason Big East honorable mention honors.

At Big East Media Day, no one wanted to talk to him.

"Just the local guys from Providence,” he admitted.

Now everyone is talking. He tied the school-record with the always intimidating Marvin Barnes, who had 52 back in 1973 against Fly Williams and Austin Peay.

"I’m sure he’ll be looking for me on campus tomorrow,” Brooks joked.

Brooks also took down former Friar guard Eric Murdock’s Big East mark of 48 points set in 1991 against Pittsburgh.

Brooks came out of the gates relatively slow on Wednesday with just 17 at the half, but put up 35 with eight minutes left and finished with a remarkable 52.

"Once I had 56 in an AAU game,” Brooks said after the performance. "All I remember is that the team we played was wearing green.”

It’s unfortunate that just as people have finally begun to take notice, Brooks’ college career is winding down. He has just three regular-season games left, including his Senior Day on March 4 against Rutgers.

It’ll likely be a short stay in the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden, and then he’ll have to prove himself all over again.

"If I was an NBA coach, I’d take him in the first round,” his coach said. "In fact, I’d take him in the first half of the first round. He’s that good.”

It’s just a shame the world won’t get to see it next month.