By Joe Henricksen
Brooks senior guard Mike Powell, who helped lead the Eagles to a city championship and a third-place finish in Class 3A last week, committed to Rhode Island today.
There were few players in the Class of 2011 who saw their stock rise more this past season than the 5-10 Powell, who averaged 18.7 points a game for coach Bobby Locke.
"I knew the hard work I have put in would pay off," said Powell, who visited Rhode Island on Friday and flew back home to play in an all-star game in St. Louis on Saturday. "This is a burden off my back now that I have found a home for the next four years."
The trip to Rhode Island was all Powell needed to ultimately make his final decision after receiving late interest from Iowa and offers from the likes of UC-Irvine and Southern Illinois.
"It's a nice campus, they have a real nice recruiting class coming in with me, and it's a chance to play in the Atlantic 10," said Powell. "Coach [Jim Baron] said I would have the ball in my hands as the point guard since their starting point guard is a senior. And they play a style that I like, getting up and down in transition."
Powell made tremendous strides over the course of the season as a point guard. Always known as a scorer in his career, the ball was in Powell's hands the majority of the regular season once Wisconsin-bound teammate George Marshall went down with an injury in December. And Powell made the most of it, turning into a take-charge point guard capable of scoring and distributing.
After being named MVP of the Waubonsie Valley Holiday Tournament in December, he was the catalyst in leading Brooks to wins over Farragut, Curie and Whitney Young in the final three games of the Chicago Public League playoffs.
"He accepted everything thrown at him," said Locke, who played a key role in nurturing Powell into the player he became his senior year. "What he's shown is that his basketball I.Q. is so high that he covered up a lot of our mistakes. He has a tremendous personality, asks great questions, has goals and aspirations. He's just a flat-out good kid. And I was lucky to coach him for one year."