As bad as things have gotten for Nebraska this season, the light at the end of the tunnel is the hope that it will all pay off down the road. With a roster full of players going through the Big 12 Conference gauntlet for the first time, the Huskers are hoping their learning experiences this year...[details]
2010 (Senior):HEADER CRAIG BRACKINS Power Forward Iowa State University Cyclones #21 6:08.5-229 Palmdale, California Brewster (N.H.) Academy Boys to Men (Ill.) Academy Lancaster (Cal.) High School
OVERVIEW Brackins, a California native, left his hometown of Palmdale after his freshman year at Lancaster High to venture to Chicago, where he attended Boys to Men Academy, before finishing his prep career at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.
He wound up in Ames at Iowa State, where he produced three banner seasons for the Cyclones. Prior to the draft he could be found in Las Vegas, where Brackins and a slew of prospects held daily workouts in an effort to improve their standing.
Projected by many analysts as a solid second-round draft, Brackins is determined to prove he deserves first-round consideration.
"The draft boards are what they are," Brackins said. "It's just people predicting something in a situation they probably don't know all of the information."
"I just need to focus on my workouts, and I think a lot of it depends on how I perform in the workouts. Right now, I am not even looking at that stuff. I am just worried about myself and what I have to do to get better. When you start working out with various teams, that's when you start getting the proper feedback you need."
Many NBA teams thought that they would be seeing Brackins in the pro ranks last year, as he was considering leaving school after his sophomore season. He returned to ISU, and while his scoring average dropped, the extra year at the college level helped him work on fine-tuning areas of his game.
The All-Big Twelve Conference first-team selection finished as the school's 12th all-time leading scorer with 1,539 points. He became the 21st player in school history to average over 20 points per game in a season (20.2 per game, 2008-09), as he also finished seventh in Cyclones annals in blocked shots (99), eighth in rebounds (736) and 14th in rebounding average (7.7 rebounds per game).
With Iowa State undergoing a staff change, and another opportunity to test his wares at the next level, Brackins decided to forgo his final year of eligibility when he declared that he had entered the 2010 NBA Draft. He knew he couldn't pass up the chance to live out his dream to play in the NBA again.
Brackins has had the full support of new head coach Fred Hoiberg, who accompanied the ISU forward to the Chicago pre-draft camp to watch Brackins work out in May. Hoiberg was hired after Brackins declared for the draft, but the Cyclone star already has been impressed with what he's seen out of ISU's new leader.
After spending his freshman year at Lancaster High School, Brackins left home for Illinois, where he played at Boys to Men Academy. As a senior, he again transferred, arriving at Brewster Academy. He led the team to a 29-6 record and a New England Prep School Athletic Conference Class A runner-up finish, as he averaged 18.1 points and 9.3 rebounds in his final season.
Brackins was rated as the 18th-best player in the nation in the final 2007 Rivals.com rankings. He ranked as the fourth-best power forward in that class by that recruiting service. He chose to attend Iowa State over offers from Indiana, Pittsburgh, Illinois and Clemson.
Brackins was named the Cyclone Challenge MVP during his first year at Iowa State. He produced an outstanding freshman season, averaging 11.4 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, as he became only the third Cyclone freshman to start every game of their rookie season (32 games). He tallied five 20-point games and three double-double performances, as his 31 blocked shots tied for 21st on the school season-record list.
As a sophomore in 2008-09, Brackins was one of three Division I players to rank in the top-30 nationally in both scoring and rebounding. The All-Big Twelve Conference and All-District selection averaged 20.2 points per game, ranking second in the league and 22nd nationally. He also averaged 9.5 rebounds to rank third in the Big Twelve and 26th in the country. The All-American honorable mention scored 645 points, the tenth-best season total by a Cyclone.
Brackins was again an All-District choice as a junior. The All-Big Twelve second-team choice led the team in scoring, averaging 16.5 points per game. He finished second on the squad with 8.5 rebounds per game and his 38 blocked shots rank 13th on the school season-record list.
GAME ANALYSIS 2007-08 SEASON Earned MVP honors at the Cyclone Challenge, as Brackins produced an outstanding freshman season, averaging 11.4 points (366 total) and 5.0 rebounds (160) per game, becoming only the third Cyclone freshman to start every game of their rookie season (32 games)...Tallied five 20-point games and three double-doubles...His five 20-point games ties for third on ISU's freshman chart for most 20-point games by a rookie...Second on the team in blocks with 31, ranking fourth on ISU's freshman list.
2007-08 SEASON Notched a double-double vs. Oregon State (23 points; 10 rebounds) to earn Big Twelve Rookie of the Week honors...Established ISU-freshman marks in points (33) and three-pointers (8) at Baylor, as he made 12 field goals vs. BU, one shy of the ISU freshman single-game record...Produced his third double-double of the season vs. Texas A&M with 20 points and 12 boards.
GAME ANALYSIS 2008-09 SEASON All-Big Twelve Conference first-team choice by the league's coaches and the Associated Press...The AP also named him All-American honorable mention...Earned All-District first-team accolades from both the USBWA and NABC...The team Most Valuable Player was a four-time Big Twelve Player of the Week choice...Earned MVP honors at the World Vision Classic...Recorded one of the greatest seasons in ISU history, as he ranked 22nd in the Nation and second in the Big Twelve in scoring, also becoming the 21st player in school history to average 20 points per game in a season (20.2 points per game)....His 645 points scored rank tenth on the ISU annual record chart and his 303 rebounds rank 11th...Averaged 9.5 rebounds per game, leading the team while finishing third in the league and 26th in the Division I ranks...Blocked 30 shots, coming up with 17 steals and 43 assists...Was one of three players in the nation to rank in the top-30 in both scoring and rebounding...Averaged a double-double (21.8 points/10.3 rebounds), scoring 20 or more points in 11 of 16 Big Twelve contests...Posted 19 20-point games and three 30-point outings...Tallied 12 20-point/10-rebound games...Registered 15 double-doubles to rank fourth in the Big Twelve...Was the third player in school history to record 600 points (645) and 300 rebounds (303) in a season...Became the 27th member of the 1,000-point club and just the fifth Cyclone in school history to record 1,000 points (1,011) in their first two seasons.
2008-09 SEASON Scored a career-high 42 points vs. Kansas...The 42 points ties for the sixth-best effort by a Big Twelve player in league history and is the fourth-best scoring effort in ISU annals... Registered 38 points on 15-of-23 shooting from the floor at Houston...His 15 field goals made is tied for third-best all-time by a Big Twelve player...Scored 32 points in an overtime victory at Northern Iowa...Grabbed a career-high 17 boards vs. Jacksonville State..
GAME ANALYSIS Swatted a career-high six shots vs. Chicago State, tying for the 11th-best single-game block total in school history...Was 9-of-13 from the floor and 4-of-5 from 3-point range en route to 28 points vs. Iowa...Posted a season-high 29 points and grabbed 12 rebounds vs. Kansas State.
2009-10 SEASON All-Big Twelve Conference second-team selection by the league's coaches, earning honor-able mention from the Associated Press...Member of the Wooden and Naismith Award Watch Lists...First-team All-District VI selection by the USBWA, adding second-team All-District VIII accolades from the NABC...Member of the Chicago Invitational All-Tournament Team...Was the only player to rank in the top ten in scoring, rebounds and blocked shots in the league this season...Led the team in scoring with a 16.5-point average (ninth in the conference), totaling 528 points behind 192-of-457 field goals (42.0 percent), 27-of-87 three-pointers (31.0 percent) and 117-of-154 free throws (76.0 percent)...Ranked second on the team with 273 rebounds (8.5 rebounds per game, fifth in the Big Twelve)...His defensive rebounds (206) ranked second among the conference's players...Finished 10th in the league with 38 blocked shots, the 13th-best season total by a Cyclone...In Big Twelve games only, he ranked third in rebounding (9.1 per game) and second in defensive rebounding (6.9 per game)...Led the team and ranked fourth in the Big Twelve with 13 double-double performances, which rank 13th on ISU's single-season chart...Tallied seven 20-point games.
CAREER NOTES Brackins recorded 1,539 points (12th-best in school history) and 736 rebounds (eighth on the ISU all-time record chart), becoming just the sixth Iowa State player to record 1,500 points and 700 rebounds in a career...The five other Cyclones to achieve the milestone are regarded as some of the best players in school history: Zaid Abdul-Aziz (1966-68), Jeff Grayer (1985-88), Victor Alexander (1988-91), Fred Hoiberg (1992-95) and Marcus Fizer (1998-2000). The other five former Cyclones to achieve the feat enjoyed NBA careers, combining 40 years of service in the NBA, and were named to ISU's All-Century team in 2008...Brackins joined Abdul-Aziz and Fizer as the only ones to accomplish that feat in three seasons...Placed seventh on the school career-record list with 99 blocked shots... His 31 blocks as a freshman and 38 as a junior rank tied for 21st and 13th, respectively, on Iowa State's season-record chart...His 645 points scored in 2008-09 rank 10th on the Cyclones' annual record list...Grabbed 303 rebounds in 2008-09, the 11th-best season total by an ISU performer...Totaled 79 double-digit scoring games, 31 20-point scoring outings and 31 double-doubles in his career...His 31 double-doubles ties for fifth on ISU's career chart...His 95 career starts ranks 14th all-time in school history...His 42 points scored vs. Kansas as a sophomore rank fourth on the school game-record chart.
HIGH SCHOOL Attended Lancaster (Cal.) High School as a freshman and then transferred to Boys to Men (Chicago, Ill.) Academy...Closed out his prep career with one season at Brewster (Wolfesboro, N.H.) Academy...Led the team to a 29-6 record and a New England Prep School Athletic Conference Class A runner-up finish, as he averaged 18.1 points and 9.3 rebounds in his final season...Rated as the 18th-best player in the nation in the final 2007 Rivals.com rankings...Ranked as the fourth-best power forward in that class by that recruiting service.
OTHER TOURNAMENTS/TEAMS 2008 SUMMER LEAGUE Played on the USA World University Games team in Belgrade, Serbia in the summer of 2009...Averaged 6.6 points and 6.0 rebounds in the seven-game tournament, helping USA earn a Bronze Medal.
PERSONAL Speech Communications major...Son of Jane Mukes and Darrin Brackins...Born 10/09/87 in Los Angeles, California...Resides in Palmdale, California.
SCOUTING REPORT Positives: Brackins has the wingspan (7-feet), standing reach (9-foot-1) and leaping ability (35-inch vertical jump) that he uses well when crashing the defensive boards for the rebound...He shows enough foot speed to earn playing time at small forward or point forward and the ability to distribute the ball and feed others with crisp passes (153 assists for his career, including a career-best 69 last season)...Has good strength going toward the basket, doing a nice job of drawing contact with his inside game to get to the charity stripe (made 326-of-449 free throws)...Rare range for a bigger forward; gets good elevation and has a high release point shooting from the perimeter (made 69-of-236 treys), but needs to be more selective when shooting from the outside...Lacks great explosiveness, but has enough quickness and stamina getting up and down the court...Seems comfortable playing with his back to the basket, but his offense suffered last year, as teammates were inadequate getting the ball to him often when working inside...Physical athlete with a keen scoring touch and good agility to get up and down the court at the power forward position in an up tempo attack...Does a nice job of using his power to box his man out and hold position when playing in the low post...Combative leaper with the long arms to go up and over the opponent to deliver an uncontested shot behind the arc...Has good hands for a player his size, working well in unison with his guards to feed the ball out of the paint against the double-team...Times leaps well, using his reach effectively to block or alter shots...Hungry, high-effort worker in the paint...Can score playing with his back to the basket...Has a strong first step in his charge to the rim...Has worked hard to improve his mid-range jumper and has the range to connect from 10-12 feet out...Uses his wing span to defend along the perimeter...Has surprisingly good lateral agility for a forward candidate and has developed an array of post-up moves that allow him to be a consistent inside scorer...It is very rare to see him pushed off the block, and he also sets with a wide and strong base when operating in the post...Top-flight character type with a strong work ethic.
Negatives: Because of the team's guard issues, Brackins was forced to go to his jumper much more often than scouts would prefer...He became to engrossed in creating his own shot and took too many ill-advised and off-balanced attempts, especially from the perimeter (made just 29.2 percent of his treys, but still took 236 shots in 96 games)...One of the oldest players in this draft class (born in 1987), leaving him with a shorter learning curve at the next level...Will bang heads with opponents defending around the basket, but does not show the same enthusiasm moving out to mirror perimeter shooters...Much more aggressive on the defensive boards and loses scoring chances by not attacking the offensive glass...Versatile, but caught between the small and power forward positions (lacks the lateral movement and low center of gravity to stay with small forwards and shooting guards and needs to improve his core strength and add more bulk if he hopes to combat bigger forwards in the NBA)...Rhythm shooter who will get into a rut, but will just keep putting the ball up...Can be pushed off-balance taking the ball to the basket; he struggles to keep body control when he meets initial contact...Needs to play with a better handle, as he does not do a great job of protecting the ball when trying to charge to the rim (will then just drop back and settle for jumpers)...Must working on increasing his range, as lots of his fade-away shots will fall far short of the basket.
Compares To: SHAREEF ABDUR-RAHIM, ex-Sacramento -- Brackins is best served as a combo forward, much like the Kings did with Abdur-Rahim and are presently doing with Jason Thompson. Brackins settled too often for perimeter shots -- he was successful just 29.2 percent of three-point tries. He has good quickness for a power forward, but not the speed to stay with smaller wing players, making teams looking at him as a small forward cautious. He needs to bulk up and add core strength if he's to play the four-spot in the NBA, as he was pushed around going to the rim and struggled to overcome initial contact.