By Joe Henricksen
When it's all said and done, Iowa accomplished a couple of things with its recent commitment from Mundelein's Ben Brust today. The Hawkeyes continued to keep its foot in the door in recruiting the Chicago area after landing Schaumburg's Cully Payne in the Class of 2009. And, with Brust, the Hawkeyes will be getting a much-needed scorer on the offensive end.
"I just saw what a great opportunity it was for me," said Brust earlier Wednesday of his decision. "The combination of basketball, the academics and the atmosphere really excited me. It [Iowa] fit me as a person."
Brust will play out the July period with his Rising Stars AAU team and then help what should be a much-improved Mundelein team this winter. But he didn't want to wait and see what would have been out there after July.
"This wasn't about me just making a decision to make a decision and get it over with," Brust assured. "I did my homework and I was 100 percent sold on choosing Iowa."
Brust, the No. 6 rated player in the City/Suburban Hoops Report's Class of 2010 player rankings, was on the verge of opening a lot more eyes this July. Remember, this is a prospect who missed a large portion of his junior year at Mundelein due to injury. Then after his recovery the new recruiting and evaluation rules prevented many college programs from getting an evaluation of him this past spring. There would have been several more schools who would have become even more involved (Minnesota, Missouri and Virginia to name a few) after getting a few more looks at Brust in July.
Iowa's gain was a big loss for both Butler and Northwestern. Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins was also in the mix to land Brust, but it's certainly more of a significant loss for Butler and Northwestern, the latter of which made a strong late push. Brust was enamored with Butler coach Brad Stevens and would have been a monster recruiting steal for the Horizon League school. However, you have to consider the fact that with the success Stevens has had, coupled with the propensity of Butler coaches moving on to bigger jobs, that it's very likely Stevens would not have been around for Brust's entire career. Then again, Iowa will need to be in a win-now mode -- or at least show improvement -- for that staff to feel fully secure in coming years. But in defense of Todd Lickliter and his staff, they have not filled their roster just yet with their own recruits.
Northwestern, which has stepped up its recruiting and its competitiveness on the floor the last couple of years, would have received another local shot in the arm and benefitted greatly from landing the in-state prospect -- and one that would have helped them. A Ben Brust-Drew Crawford, last year's No. 2 ranked player in the Hoops Report's final 2009 class rankings, combination on the wing would have been a handful down the road for foes.
Iowa, though, is the fortunate one, landing Brust before he potentially played himself up during July. While Brust is not in the category of difference-maker, he is a step up for the program and is underrated nationally. He's a 6-2 scorer who is more bouncy and athletic than most people give him credit it for. And he puts the ball in the hole, both as a shooter, off the bounce and as a slasher. He's a multi-faceted scorer who will certainly provide a lift for an Iowa program that finished 5-13 in the Big Ten last season.