Iowa‘s loss turned out to be Wisconsin‘s gain.
Ben Brust, a 6-foot-2 guard who averaged more than 24 points per game the last two seasons at Mundelein High, committed to the University of Wisconsin‘s men‘s basketball program after a visit to the school‘s Madison campus last weekend.
Brust had originally committed to Iowa last summer, and signed a national letter of intent in the fall, but was released from that commitment when Iowa coach Todd Lickliter was fired after the end of the season. What followed was a parade of recruiting calls and offers to Brust, who was a second-team all-state selection after averaging 24.6 points and 5 assists a game his senior season. He also plays for the Rising Stars AAU team.
Before Brust could even consider Wisconsin or Northwestern, he had to win an appeal with the Big Ten Conference so that he could sign with another conference school following his release from Iowa. Brust had to appeal because the Big Ten previously turned down a waiver request.
“He grew up a fan of the Big Ten and has followed this conference all his life. Now he will have the opportunity to compete in it,“ Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said.
Brust reportedly chose the Badgers over Northwestern, Southern Cal and Boston College. New Iowa coach Fran McCaffery was interested in Brust, as was national runner-up Butler. After Lickliter’s dismissal, Brust told Iowa he preferred to start the recruiting process all over again. This time, Wisconsin won the recruiting battle, as Brust became the fourth Badger recruit of 2010, joining Duje Dukan of Deerfield, Ill., Evan Anderson of Eau Claire, Wis., and Josh Gasser of Port Washington, Wis.
“The program speaks for itself. Coach Ryan is proven and I look forward to having him coach me over the next four years,” Brust told the CBS Bleacher Report.
Brust played in the 2010 High School Academic All-American Classic last week in Azusa, Calif. Four times this season, he topped 40 points.
“Ben is a talented shooter and ball-handler, and possesses a leadership quality that you want in your guards,” Ryan said.
Storylines around Chicagoland
* Jack Waldschmidt, a sophomore at Bradley Bourbonnais, landed the biggest fish at the second annual IHSA Bass Fishing State Finals at Lake Carlyle, a catch of 5 pounds, 13 ounces. Illini West (Carthage)'s Travis Wilson and Brian Lafferty won the team championship with a total haul of 30 pounds, 5 ounces to beat out 56 other teams. Moline, in the quad cities area, was runner-up in the nation‘s only high school bass fishing tournament.
* Robert Smith, head coach of Simeon (Chicago) state champion boys basketball team and dean of students at Simeon, told the Chicago Sun-Times he will not pursue the head coaching job at Chicago State. One week ago, he submitted a resume when asked to do so by an athletic administrator at Chicago State. “I just don’t think it’s the right fit for me now,” Smith told the Sun-Times.
* One week after Tim Dougherty resigned as head football coach at Lincoln-Way Central (New Lenox), Brett Hefner was promoted from assistant coach to head coach. Hefner is a graduate of Waterloo High School in the St. Louis area and was a former head coach at Shelbyville and Centralia.
* The Highland Park girls basketball team, which has been selling cookies as a fundraiser for a planned trip to Arizona next December, won’t be allowed to head southwest after all. Suzan Hebson, the school district’s assistant superintendent, told the Chicago Tribune that she was halting the trip due to Arizona’s new crackdown law on illegal immigrants, which kicks into force July 1. The law has produced protests nationally, including at a recent Cubs vs. Arizona Diamondbacks game at Wrigley Field.
3 big performances
* Coal City's Kirsten Verdun hit three home runs and struck out 12 in a five-inning, 22-0 win over Westmont. Coal City’s softball team, a third-place winner in last year’s Class 2A state tournament, has won 30 straight games.
* Bartlett softball pitcher Callie Dennison pushed her shutout streak to 33 innings, striking out eight in a 6-1 win Wednesday over Royal.
* Danielle Vujovic headed in a ball in double overtime, giving York (Elmhurst) a 3-2 girls soccer victory over Lyons (LaGrange). The win clinched York’s second West Suburban Silver title in three years. York is 15-4 overall.
* Northside vs. Lane (Chicago), Chicago Public League girls soccer championship, 7 p.m. Friday: Lane (17-2-1) will try to win its first city title in girls soccer since 2006 when it takes on Northside. A goal by Dee Lee in the sixth round of a shootout Wednesday carried Northside to a semifinal win over Whitney Young (Chicago).
* The boys gymnastics state championships will be held Friday and Saturday (May 14-15) at Lincoln-Way East (Frankfort). Lukasz Adamczyk of Stevenson (Lincolnshire) is the top qualifier in two events: parallel bars (9.600) and pommel horse (9.650).
Recruiting: Henry commits to Illinois
* Mycheal Henry, a junior who averaged 27 points per game at Orr (Chicago) on Chicago’s West Side, verbally committed to the University of Illinois men’s basketball program this week. Henry, at 6-foot-5, is the third Chicago-area recruit in Illinois’ Class of 2011, joining Mount Carmel guard Tracy Abrams and St. Ignatius center Nnanna Egwu. Henry chose the Illini over Wisconsin and Georgetown.
* James Crockett, a 6-4 forward at Crete-Monee, verbaled to DePaul and new Demons head coach Oliver Purnell. He chose DePaul over Cal, Dayton and Western Michigan following a visit to DePaul last weekend. “It feels good to be the first guy (recruited by Purnell). I‘d like to get some other guys from Chicago in with me,” Crockett told the Chicago Sun-Times.
* Fabyon Harris of Hyde Park (Chicago) committed to Houston after a visit there last weekend. He plans to sign a letter of intent publicly in a ceremony at Hyde Park High School on Friday night, according to the Chicago Tribune. “I like everything they showed me down there. It is the best thing for me to leave Chicago,” Harris, who lost a brother and a close friend to street violence, told the Tribune.
Paul Bowker, a sports journalist for 25 years who has worked at newspapers nationwide, covers the Chicago area for MaxPreps. He may be reached at email@example.com.