If it weren't for those pesky little details known as "eligibility requirements," Ben Brust might have gotten an early start to his college career last weekend.
Brust had traveled with his family to Iowa City on Sunday to watch his future team take on Indiana in a Big Ten battle. Even though Iowa ended up winning the game 73-57, there were some moments of obvious frustration along the way that weren't lost on Brust.
In the first half, the Hawkeyes connected on just one of their 12 attempts from 3-point land. For the game, they were an unimpressive 3-of-17 from long range.
Brust, who has made a living behind the 3-point line over the last three years at Mundelein High School, sat one row behind the Iowa bench, wishing he could help.
Apparently, his future coaches were on the same page.
"They were joking with me during the game, asking me if I was ready to go in and knock down an open shot," Brust said with a laugh. "If I could have been out there, I would have."
No doubt it would have helped Iowa's cause.
Brust has drained a whopping 83 three-pointers this season for Mundelein, which hit 19 wins during the regular season thanks in large part to Brust's nose for the basket.
Overall, Brust averaged 24.6 points. He scored more than 50 points twice (against Evanston and Buckeye, a team from Arizona), more than 40 points four times and more than 30 points five times en route to becoming the second-most prolific scorer in school history with about 1,700 career points.
"He's kept me up at night thinking of ways to stop him," Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said of Brust. "I've watched a lot of film on him over the years and he's just a heck of a player. He's so tough to defend."
On scoring alone, Brust merits consideration as the best player in Lake County this season. But it was his all-around game - he also averaged 4.6 assists, 5.9 rebounds and 3.1 steals per game - that put him over the top in the race to be named the honorary captain of the Daily Herald's Lake County all-area boys basketball team.
"When he first came to us, he was a jump shooter," Mundelein coach Dick Knar said of Brust, who transferred in from Hersey after his freshman year. "Since then, he has developed into so many other things. He rebounds better, he passes the ball better. He's expanded his game physically and mentally. And his leadership has really improved. When he sees another kid struggling, he's not afraid to go out and say something to help. This year more than any other year, he's been a real leader."
While the leadership thing may be new for Brust, a naturally quiet and unassuming personality, he's long been a follower - of basketball.
Brust says that he was playing on travel teams in Arlington Heights as early as second grade and that some of his earliest memories involve watching basketball games on TV from wire to wire at a very young age.
"I remember I really liked Duke and some of the great teams they had back then (in 2001, when Brust was a third grader, Duke won the NCAA national title). I had this Duke T-shirt that said 'Eat, Sleep and Play Basketball.' I used to ask my Mom every night when she put me to bed if she thought Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski) would still be at Duke when I grew up because I thought it'd be cool to play for him.
"I guess even back then I was thinking that I wanted to play college basketball."
Brust worried last winter that his dream might have been shattered, along with his ankle.
He broke his right ankle in a game against Stevenson in January and had to sit the rest of the season.
But a strict rehab regimen had him back on the court by late spring, impressing college scouts once again. He chose Iowa in July and has been proudly donning Iowa apparel almost every day since.
"It's pretty much all I ever wear," Brust laughed.
Brust says it doesn't concern him in the least that the Hawkeyes have had a rough season (10-19) and currently sit in ninth place (4-12) in the Big Ten standings.
"I've seen strides all year," Brust said of Iowa. "They've been improving all year. They have one senior and one junior playing. The rest are freshmen and sophomores. As we keep developing, I don't see why we can't win Big Ten titles and compete with the top teams."
Brust is more than ready for that challenge. And sooner rather than later.
"A big reason I chose to come to Iowa is because I feel like I have a good opportunity to step in right away and help the team. I'll bring a lot of energy and I'll be a threat to score and they need that," Brust said. "Hopefully, I'll get that chance next year. I'm getting real anxious for it."
The coaches at Iowa can relate. And that's no joke.
Captains honor roll
2000-01 - Joe Baumann (Carmel)
2001-02 - Matt Glees (Vernon Hills)
2002-03 - Andrew Wynne (Grant) and Austin Yarc (Libertyville)
2003-04 - Matt Corning (Mundelein)
2004-05 - Mike Kolze (Lake Zurich)
2005-06 - Ceola Clark (Warren) and Marcus Lewis (Warren)
2006-07 - Ceola Clark (Warren)
2007-08 - Dylan Richter (Stevenson)
2008-09 - Brandon Paul (Warren)
2009-10 - Ben Brust (Mundelein)