The Wolverine

September 2016

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 70 of 83

SEPTEMBER 2016 THE WOLVERINE 71   COMMITMENT PROFILE Going head to head with a child- hood favorite when vying for a re- cruit is often an uphill battle. When that team also happens to be the de- fending national champion, the task gets even tougher. Michigan coaches were up against just that scenario in pursuing Spring Grove (Pa.) High unrated guard Eli Brooks. The 6-1, 170-pounder was a relative unknown until blowing up this spring and summer, earning of- fers from Kansas State, North Caro- lina State, Ohio State and — eventu- ally — nearby Villanova, followed by Michigan. Brooks admitted Villanova had been his dream school, only an hour and a half drive from his home. When it came time for him to decide, how- ever, an outstanding June visit to Ann Arbor remained fresh in his mind. "I told my parents about a week before, 'If Michigan offers, I'm going to take it,'" Brooks said. "Once I got away from the feeling of being a little kid watching Villanova play, I knew Michigan had sold me." Michigan head coach John Beilein actually offered days after Villanova head coach Jay Wright. "Coach Beilein offered [July 19], and I committed right when he called," Brooks said. "I think he knew. I'd told him he was my top choice for a while, and we just had a good connection from the start … I always had a good connection with Coach Beilein. "I got a good feel for the campus and the style they play. It just felt right at Michigan. The personal connection, how personal Coach Beilein was on my visit, the business school — that speaks for itself. I want to go into business." Brooks averaged 25 points and shot 41 percent from three-point range as a junior, making 79 treys in 29 games, and was named to the Pennsylvania Sports Writers Class AAAA (largest division) All-State second team. His midrange game is where it all starts. He has a nice 15-foot pull-up his dad and coach, James Brooks, has reported, and can score at all three levels. He's an 82 percent free throw shooter and shot more than 150 free throws, while also notching 67 assists in leading his school to its first-ever trip to the state tournament. Michigan assistant Billy Donlon, on speakerphone with Beilein, gave Brooks a "Go Blue" and the three celebrated together after the pledge. They'd seen a lot of each other on the AAU circuit over the summer, Brooks playing with Jersey Shore Warriors on a more localized circuit and U-M always finding him. "They've seen me play a lot. I think I had one bad game in front of them," Brooks said. "They said they like the way I can shoot the ball. If you can't shoot the ball at the next level, it's tough to score. "I have always had confidence, but knowing that I can compete or even get looked at by schools like that, it gave me a lot more confi- dence — and my dad has always been a big supporter." He's also been his coach since his high school career began. His son's ability to run a team was what ini- tially turned U-M on to him, James Brooks said. "He was always known for great court vision, really looking for oth- ers," the elder Brooks noted. "Last year he had to score a lot more and he did, mostly driving, getting to the rim and getting fouled. That takes a bigger toll on the body, so we started working on a lot more jump shots. "He really worked on coming off screens, pick-and-roll action that freed him up to shoot the jump shot." It's his overall confidence, though, that elevated him to a high major player, James Brooks said. His son has made everyone on the court better over the last few years, but now he's no longer nervous when he plays against the elite. It's shown on the court, a big rea- son he's now a future Wolverine. — Chris Balas FILM EVALUATION Strengths: Eli Brooks has great court vision and feel for the game and an out- standing pull-up jumper. His three-pointer has also improved over the last year. Areas Of Improvement: Brooks is a decent finisher but could be better, some- thing that will probably come as he gets stronger. He could also work on his lateral quickness. Michigan Player Comparison: Though a bit taller, Brooks is reminiscent of current U-M point guard Derrick Walton Jr. with his ability to knock down the jumper off the dribble and his handle. — Analysis from Brooks picked Michigan over offers from Ohio State and defending national champ Villanova. PHOTO BY JOSH VERLIN/CITY OF BASKETBALL LOVE Combo Guard Eli Brooks Chooses The Wolverines Brooks "I got a good feel for the campus and the style they play. It just felt right at Michigan."

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolverine - September 2016