Saint John Vianney High School, Holmdel, basketball player Zoe Brooks experienced a special moment on July 9 when she had the opportunity to participate in the WNBA Skills Challenge that was a part of the league’s 2022 All-Star Weekend in Chicago.
As a member of the Philly Rise Girls Basketball Club that is affiliated with the Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL), Brooks, who is a resident of Plainfield, Union County, was nominated by her coaches to be one of eight EYBL players to have a chance to compete alongside WNBA players in the skills challenge.
Philly Rise was in Chicago at the time to participate in the 2022 Nike Nationals.
Brooks was selected to be part of the field and joined Sabrina Ionescu of the New York Liberty for the event that combined the skills of passing, shooting and ball-handling.
In the end, Brooks and Ionescu won all three rounds of the competition to become the 2022 WNBA Skills Challenge champions.
“It was really fun” winning the challenge, Brooks said in an interview. “It’s for sure a Top 5 moment in my career. It’s one of my favorite trophies I have won. I would definitely do it again in the future.”
Having the chance to team up with Ionescu was a dream come true for Brooks, who was hoping the young WNBA phenom would be her partner for the event.
Brooks did not know until an hour before the competition began that Ionescu would be her partner.
When Brooks learned she would team up with Ionescu, she was on cloud nine. The two players spoke prior to the event and expressed confidence in themselves that they would be able to win the skills challenge.
“It was really cool” teaming up with Ionescu, Brooks said. “We clicked and bonded really well together. It was all really exciting.”
Since winning the competition, Brooks said, she has felt like “a little celebrity.” She said many people approached her in Chicago to congratulate her on her accomplishment.
Brooks has also drawn significant attention on social media, attracting many new followers on Twitter and Instagram after winning the skills challenge.
“It’s been crazy. This is what being famous really feels like,” said Brooks, who will be a senior at Saint John Vianney and recently committed to play college basketball at North Carolina State University.
Brooks played her first two seasons of high school basketball at Trenton Catholic Preparatory Academy. She helped her team win the NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public B championship during the 2019-20 season.
She joined Coach Dawn Karpell’s program at Saint John Vianney for the 2021-22 season and averaged 18.1 points per game while contributing 118 assists, 143 rebounds and 121 steals as the Lancers went 32-1 and won the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions crown.