Four years ago, Sha Brooks may have wanted to play basketball for Tennessee.
It is the inclination for many women's basketball players since Pat Summitt has made Knoxville, Tenn., a hot spot for the game, winning eight NCAA Championships and earning a berth in every NCAA Tournament since its inception.
But the 5-foot-7 guard from Jackson, Tenn., wasn't wanted by the Volunteers, who play roughly five hours from where she grew up.
She became a Gator instead but always saved her best performances for when Rocky Top was blaring.
With ESPN coming to the O'Connell Center for a women's basketball game for the first time in seven years, Brooks scored 29 points to lead the Gators in a 66-57 win against the Volunteers on Feb. 8. It was only UF's third-ever win against Tennessee and resulted in an AP Poll Top 10 ranking for the first time since February 2001.
And when the Gators trailed 50-43 with 7:29 remaining, Brooks would come through with one of her finest moments.
She came down the court and drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Then she did it again. Next, she drew a charge on Tennessee sharpshooter Angie Bjorkuland, sending the game to a media timeout and bringing the crowd to its feet as it erupted. Two more free throws from Brooks cut the deficit to 1 before yet another 3-pointer from the top of the key gave UF a lead it would not surrender.
For a nearly six-minute stretch, the senior guard scored 12 points and was her team's entire offense.
It was the brightest in a season of many shining moments for the four-year starter.
She pushed her teammates to one of the best seasons in program history, setting new school records with 15 straight wins and seven consecutive Southeastern Conference victories. UF returned to the Big Dance after a two-year absence and won a first-round game against Temple before falling to eventual national champion Connecticut.
And she was certainly a part of the action every night, starting all 32 games, and finished her career having been on the floor for the opening tip 123 straight times.
Brooks led the team in scoring, averaging 16.4 points per game, but upped that total to 18.8 per contest in eight matchups against nationally ranked opponents.
The senior earned SEC Player of the Week honors on three separate occasions en route to being a unanimous First Team All-SEC selection by the coaches and media.
She will leave Gainesville as one of only two Gators (Brandi McCain, '98-'02) with 1,500 points, 275 assists and 200 steals.
For her dependable scoring, clutch performances and leading the Gators to one of their best seasons ever, Sha Brooks is the alligatorSports No. 8 UF Athlete of 2008-09.
BY THE NUMBERS: Brooks earned one sixth-place vote, two seventh-place votes, one ninth-place vote, one 10th-place vote and was left off one ballot.