On Saturday afternoon Dillon Brooks climbed into a black luxury SUV outside the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Wellington Street in downtown Toronto and headed to the furthest reaches of the city.

He was speaking to a group of basketball players at Father Henry Carr Secondary School at Martingrove and Finch.

Growing up he would make a trip from just as far but in more modest circumstances and from the other direction. He would wake early from his home in northwest Mississauga, and take three busses to get to the longtime high school basketball power in time.

It’s been a while since he’s been back. He noticed the new scoreboard and new paint. But in the faces looking up from the floor of his old gym him he saw a familiar look – an eagerness to figure out how to get better, how to climb to new heights.

Brooks recognized the look because he still has it. The 22-year-old has had a nearly out-of-body experience the past few days. A rookie with the Memphis Grizzlies, Brooks has spent all day Friday and Saturday in his hometown in advance of Sunday afternoon’s game against the Toronto Raptors.

He could barely believe where he was and why.

“When I came to my first game at the Air Canada Centre watching Vince [Carter], I was just a fan,” he said. “I never thought I would be on the court playing here. It feels so surreal. I have so much family and friends here and so much support from Canada, it’s a great moment.”