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Guarente: La Salle's Brickus earning Coatesville one-name status

10/15/2021, 2:45pm EDT
By Jason Guarente

Jason Guarente (@JasonGuarente)

(Ed. Note: This article is part of our 2021-22 season coverage, which will run for the six weeks preceding the first official games of the year on Nov. 9. To access all of our high school and college preview content for this season, click here.)

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Coatesville standout Jhamir "Jig" Brickus is entering his second season at La Salle. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Coatesville legends often have nicknames. They become so commonly used that real names are no longer required. One word and everyone knows who you’re talking about.

Richard Hamilton is Rip. John Allen is Tootie. And so on.

For two decades those two were at the top of the career scoring list in a place that loves its basketball. Then came Jhamir Brickus. Jig.

“He’s a special kid,” former Coatesville athletic director Matt McCain said. “He’s special for the city of Coatesville. Everybody I knew backed him up, rooted for him and supported him. He meant a lot to the city for sure.”

Brickus, a 5-foot-11 sophomore at La Salle, scored 2,531 points in high school. He zoomed past Rip and Tootie and secured a singular place in Coatesville history.

It wasn’t destiny. It was will. Brickus’ father, Maurice Bryant, was Allen’s teammate on the 2001 state championship team. Bryant’s son had the advantage of an early start.

“I always had the ball in my hands,” Brickus said. “I always had pressure. As I got older I got more composed and calm with the ball. I was able to make plays at my own pace.”

That’s how it all started. The handle. The ability to maneuver through traffic. Those skills that look so effortless were a lifetime in the making.


Brickus (above) scored more than 2,000 points in a Coatesville uniform. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

So often during his Coatesville career, Brickus started on a drive and appeared to have no way to finish. He’d bounce, he’d weave and somehow two points were the result. It was unstoppable. There haven’t been many scorers like him.

“Nothing ever fazed him,” McCain said. “No moment was ever too big for him. He was always even-keeled no matter what. I never saw him nervous once in my life. He’s just one of those calm and collected kids.”

Christian Ray, who grew up in nearby Gap, remembers the first time he crossed paths with Brickus. It was during a camp and it was the kind of moment that stuck in a young man’s memory.

Brickus always received a lot of attention. He was labeled a future star.

“There was buzz,” Ray said. “Even from the time when I was in sixth or seventh grade. He was two years younger than I was. Growing up, people started talking about him.”

Ray, a 2,000-point scorer himself who played at Octorara and The Haverford School, couldn’t have known his career would end up intertwined with Brickus. They’re teammates now. Ray arrived at La Salle in 2019 and Brickus joined him a year later.

Both were in the starting five for most of last season. Ray quickly saw the benefits that came with playing alongside the kid he’d met so many years before.

“Jig is extremely talented,” Ray said. “His playmaking and vision are things that don’t necessarily show up in the stat column. Whenever you’re playing with Jig you have to make sure you can find an open lane, find an open spot because he’ll get you the ball any place that you’re open.”

Brickus brings the ball upcourt during a La Salle practice on Oct. 8, 2021. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

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Brickus cracked La Salle’s lineup after three games and never left. He was the team leader in minutes, assists and steals. The freshman averaged 8.8 points, shot nearly 50% from the floor and nearly 80% at the line.

La Salle brings back four of its top five scorers in a balanced offense. Jack Clark, a 6-8 guard from Cheltenham, and Sherif Kenney, a 6-4 guard from Washington D.C., join Brickus and Ray as notable returnees.

Ray was excited when he learned that Brickus committed to La Salle. The junior believed it was an important step toward helping the Explorers post their first winning record since 2014-15.

“Jig’s superpower is his ability to play at his own pace no matter if he’s playing pickup or he’s at St. Bonnies or at Dayton or wherever,” Ray said. “He doesn’t have to play fast because he’s so crafty, so good with the ball. Nobody can speed him up. If you do try to speed him up, he’s going to use that against you and he’s gonna go by you.”

Brickus is just getting started at La Salle. He has four more years of eligibility to make a lasting impression like the one he made in his hometown.

When kids approach Jig about his time with the Red Raiders and ask for advice, he tells them to keep pushing. That anything is possible.

“You had to really work for it in Coatesville,” Brickus said. “Nothing came easy. We’re a small town. There’s not a lot of radar there. You had to work for everything.”

Where Brickus ranks among Coatesville’s greats could be the subject of endless debate. He’s somewhere on that list of one-named legends.

Somewhere near the top.


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