EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Going Green

January 18, 2008

The king of two courts

NORTH ANDOVER | For the record, the bribe was made but never paid.

Brooks School senior Jordan Mickens was that desperate to talk Bradford's Alex Skinner into playing basketball this winter.

"I offered him $10,000, I would have done anything," joked Mickens, the New Jersey native and only returning starter from last year's team. "He's such a good shooter. I knew we needed him."

In the end, the money didn't matter. Friendship won out, and Skinner committed to join his pal on the hardwood instead of polishing up his tennis game on the hard courts.

And the Brooks boys team has been the giant beneficiary.

"He's been on fire," said Mickens, co-captain with Skinner for 9-4 Brooks. "It's been over half a season and he's got to be averaging about 23 points a game (actually 21.5). Without that, I don't know where we'd be."

Skinner doesn't dislike hoop. In fact, he says, the way he's playing this year, he's even "surprised myself."

By trade, Skinner, the son of EMass schoolboy (Danvers High) and Merrimack College basketball legend Dana Skinner, fancies himself a tennis player first.

A two-time All-ISL player and returning Eagle-Tribune All-Star, he owns a USTA ranking in the top 30 for New Englanders under-18.

He was contemplating not playing just to fine-tune the tennis game for the spring season.

Normally, losing a reserve who averaged only 4.7 points a game last season as Skinner did, wouldn't appear to be that huge.

Brooks is fortunate Mickens knew better.

The two backcourt mates, now co-captains, forged a friendship last year, Mickens' first at Brooks.

When graduated emaciated coach John McVeigh's roster, the only two upperclassmen left standing were Skinner and Mickens, a part-time starter in the backcourt last year averaging 7.9 per contest.

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