Sean Rooks had a long-lasting basketball career, in which he assisted teammates and future players in any way possible.
Rooks played collegiate basketball at the University of Arizona for four years. The Wildcats made the NCAA tournament every year he played there. In his freshman year, the Wildcats reached the Sweet 16 as the No. 1 seed in the West Region. In the following season, they clinched the No. 2 seed in the West Region but lost in the second round. In his junior year, they made it again as the No. 2 seed but fell in the Sweet 16 round. In his final year there the team qualified for the tournament as the No. 3 seed in the Southeast Region, but they were eliminated in the first round.
During his time there, Rooks averaged 11.6 points per game (PPG), 4.5 rebounds per game (RPG), 1.1 assists per game (APG), and 1.1 blocks per game (BPG). In his senior year, he was named to the All-Pac-10 first team.
Hot Start for the Rookie
Sean Rooks was selected by the Dallas Mavericks 30th overall in the 1992 NBA Draft. He started off hot his first year in the league. He was put in as the starting center, starting in 68 out of the 72 games he played in his rookie year. He averaged 13.5 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 1.3 APG, and 1.1 BPG for the season. Being picked as the third pick in the second round and putting up the numbers he did in his first year, he exceeded the expectations that were put on him for his rookie season.
The following year Rooks was used more off the bench as he started in 28 out of his 47 games played for the year. He missed time at the beginning and middle of the season due to injuries. Rooks was still able to average 11.4 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.0 APG, and 0.9 BPG. This however would be Rooks’ final season in Dallas for a while.
Right before the 1994-1995 season started the Mavericks traded Rooks to the Minnesota Timberwolves for a 1997 first-round pick, that turned into Kelvin Cato. At this point in his career, Rooks became a journeyman going from one team to another each season. He spent a season and a half in Minnesota before being traded halfway through the following season to the Atlanta Hawks.
Rooks then spent the rest of the season on the Hawks before signing as a free agent with the Los Angeles Lakers during the 1996 off-season. He spent three seasons with the Lakers before getting traded during the 1999 off-season back to Dallas in exchange for A.C. Green. A 2000 second-round pick was also sent with Rooks, the pick would later be used to select Pete Mickeal.
Back in Dallas
Rooks’ second stint in Dallas wasn’t as successful as his first. This time around he was used mainly off the bench starting in 13 of the 71 games he played in. He averaged 4.4 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.0 APG, and 0.7 BPG in his one season back.
His Journey Continues
The Mavericks would again move on from Rooks in the off-season, this time trading him to the Los Angeles Clippers for Eric Murdock. He then spent three seasons with the Clippers. Rooks signed with the New Orleans Hornets as a free agent during the 2003 off-season. Halfway through the season, the Hornets traded him to the Orlando Magic where he would finish his NBA career at the end of the season.
As part of the Mavericks, Rooks averaged 9.6 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.1 APG, and 0.9 BPG. Rooks served as a helpful starting big man during his first tenure with the Mavericks. By the time he found his way back to the Mavericks, he became a helpful big man off the bench.
Life After the NBA
The following year Rooks went overseas to Spain and played for two Liga ACB teams, Unicaja Malaga and Joventut Badalona. He also played for the Los Angeles Slam of the ABA during the 2011-2012 season.
Rooks stayed close to the court even after he was done playing as he took numerous assistant coaching jobs. In the 2007-2008 season, he became an assistant coach for the Bakersfield Jam, the Detroit Piston’s D-League team until it was rebranded as a G League team during the 2017 off-season. He became an assistant coach for the New Mexico Thunderbirds in the 2010-2011 season, which was affiliated with the New Orleans Hornets and the Orlando Magic at the time. The team is now known as the Canton Chargers and is a part of the G League. In 2012, he became an assistant coach on the Sioux Falls Skyforce, a D-League team that also became a G League team affiliated with the Miami Heat.
Rooks became a Phoenix Suns player development coach for the 2012-2013 season. He also stayed as an assistant coach for Skyforce until 2016. From 2014 to 2016 Rooks became the Philadelphia 76ers player development coach.
Rooks passed away on June 7, 2016, after interviewing for a coaching position with the New York Knicks. The cause of his death was presumed to be related to a heart condition he had. He left behind a son and daughter, Kameron and Khayla, both of which played collegiate basketball. Kameron played basketball for the California Golden Bears men’s basketball team at the University of California, Berkeley. Khayla played for the Washington Huskies women’s basketball team at the University of Washington and the Lady Rebels women’s basketball team at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Rooks had a fruitful NBA career as he alternated from one team to another, becoming a journeyman who could contribute to any team in need of a center. As a coach and as a player, Rooks’ biggest strength was his ability to help others. Even after his NBA career was over, he continued to help future players develop their craft.
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