Michigan pulled the upset tonight when Spring Grove, Pa. 2017 point guard Eli Brooks (6-2, 165) committed to the Wolverines over offers from childhood favorite Villanova, N.C. State, Ohio State, Kansas State and others.
A relative unknown before the summer, Brooks blew up in the spring AAU season and enjoyed an outstanding visit to U-M this summer. He told TheWolverine.com Michigan felt different than the other schools and he felt like he was a great fit.
That was the difference when head coach John Beilein offered.
"They offered tonight [July 19]," Brooks said, adding his decision was "just a feel."
Brooks joins shooting guard Jordan Poole (6-3, Rivals.com's No. 102 senior nationally) of LaPorte, Ind., La Lumiere (formerly of Milwaukee King) in the 2017 class. The Wolverines have also signed Kentucky transfer Charles Matthews (6-7) ... he'll be eligible in 2017, as well, giving the Wolverines a formidable trio.
"In his area, Brooks is known as a scorer, putting up over 25 ppg for Spring Grove High School as a junior," CityofBasketballLove reported. "However, his biggest strength is his ability to run a team. Brooks plays the game at a great pace. He never allows the defense to speed him up, and makes his teammates better every time he touches the floor. His jump shot has continued to improve and he his now knocking down outside shots on a consistent basis.
"A super-stock riser over the last few months, Brooks' amazing 2016 summer was capped off with a commitment to Michigan. But he's proven he's a true high-major guard of late - he's completely unflappable, limits his mistakes as well as anybody around, and is a knockdown shooter from all over the court who also makes his teammates better both in his style of play and his leadership. Has been a winner at every level and will only make a program better at the high-major level, even if he's not a four-year starter."
“He’s very smooth,” PennLIve.com’s Patrick Strohecker told TheWolverine.com last month. “He’s not physically imposing, but he’s very quick and, at least locally, he dominates games, as he should be doing. He’ll need to put some weight on at the D-I level, but right now, he has no problem taking over games and dominating them.”
His coach, James Brooks, also happens to be his father. James Brooks said a Kansas State offer really opened the floodgates on his son’s recruitment.
“I think that put him on that level. That was the beginning of it,” he said. “Then Jersey Shore Warriors (AAU) coach Tony Sagona is friends with Coach [John] Beilein. That was the beginning of the connection. We set up a visit to Ohio State via a connection with coach Chris Jent, and [Michigan assistant] Billy Donlon said, ‘you’re only three hours away … come on up and see us.’ On Father’s Day we were able to do it.”
The visit gave the younger Brooks a feeling that never left.
“He felt at home at it,” his father said. “For a bigger campus, it had that feel that the guys were connected with the rest of the university. It wasn’t separate. We drove around with coach Beilein, who took enough time to spend the whole tour with us and showed us in person he cared about Eli being there, that we were there. It felt good.
“Another part of what it is, is Michigan is Michigan. There are some things that you can’t get anywhere else in the country, but I think they also showed the side of while wanting to be competitive, they also want to get the right kids in. They think Eli is that type of kid in terms of their feedback to us.”
Brooks shot 41 percent from three-point range as a junior, making 79 in 29 games, but his midrange game is where it all starts. He has a nice 15-foot pull-up, his dad reports, and can score at all three levels. He’s an 82 percent free throw shooter and shot over 150 free throws, and he averaged a double double with rebounds.
“Coach Beilein has been saying he really enjoys my game, especially how I run a team, the way I see the floor and stuff and the way I can shoot,” the younger Brooks said last week. “That’s definitely one thing I’ve improved. I made 79 threes for my high school team this year.”
Brooks earned class AAA first-team, all-state honors in leading Spring Grove to a 25-4 record and its first state playoff appearance in school history.