Badgers on Brust

Becoming the fourth and final member of Wisconsin basketball's 2010 recruiting class, Wisconsin assistant coaches talk about the process, the player and the future of Mundelein shooting guard Ben Brust.

Howard Moore on Ben Brust:

Q: Does he fit the mold of what Jason Bohannon was for Wisconsin – a very good outside shooter, a player that can do some things off the dribble, plays a little bit of defense and a guy that hasn't come close to his full potential yet?

A:Exactly. It's not a real fair comparison to Jason because Ben is going to create his own identity, but he's got a chance to be a really good Badger player. He's done a lot of good things throughout his career. I don't want to put a lot of pressure on the kid to say he's going to do what J-Bo did last year. I hope people don't put those expectations on this young kid, but he's going to have more of a playing time opportunity coming in than Jason did when he first came in. He's going to have to grow and figure things out with what is going on in the program, but I think he'll have a terrific career.

Q: From both perspectives, how frustrating was the appeal process and how rewarding was the appeal process to not only do what was best for Wisconsin, but to do what was right?

A: Well when you talk about the frustration, his frustration was greater than ours for the simple fact that he was going through the situation. We were sensitive to that. Whether we were recruiting him or not, you've got to look at the situation and say that the right thing to do is make sure the athlete is taken care of. Obviously you are talking about a kid that is an ideal student athlete that gets the good grades, does well in academics and works hard to earn a scholarship situation at a lot of good schools. You don't want to handcuff a kid that way.

Before the appeal came up when he was first denied going to a Big Ten school, we were involved when he was given the release. When we saw where this was going, it was our responsibility to make sure that the kid had at least an option to come to our school and have a right to go wherever he wanted. I think the faculty reps did the right thing to along this young man to have the opportunity. Whether he was coming to our place or Northwestern or wherever, the right thing was done and that's the most important thing. He had his own decision, and we were glad it was us.

Q: Should the situation not have worked in Wisconsin's favorite, did the coaching staff have a plan B for this past season?

A: Well, obviously you want to work out different options and different scenarios should things not work out the way you hope. When you are looking for players late in the year, it's not the greatest of options that you would have in the previous fall or the junior year for the 2010 class. It was a situation for us that we wanted to be careful to not bring in a player just for the sake of bringing in a body. The player has to fit our mold and his credentials have to get into Wisconsin and has good character. We wanted to find a player that brought all that to the table and Ben was the number one option.

Q: A lot of people are pointing to the fact that you are losing two guards next year and you need players to back up Jordan Taylor and Wquinton Smith. Is Ben Brust a guy that can help you and give you some minutes?

A: Well, you recruit guys that you hope can step in and help you as much as possible. At the same time, we don't want to put pressure on these guys and make them become miracle workers. There's a maturation process that sometimes takes the whole freshman year. It's important to see how fast these guys pick up the concepts and how quickly they learn the things that we teach and our philosophies. We hope they can come in and do x-amount of things and have the mentality that they want to play and they want to play well. Hopefully he has the mentality and the confidence to come in to do some good things and help us out, but we understand that it's going to be a process. That's why the summer is so important for the older guys to teach the young guys the Wisconsin way.

Q: On signing day 2009, Wisconsin's 2010 recruiting class was already ‘done' with Evan Anderson and Vander Blue. It's been a big change from then to now and through all the different headaches you had to deal with, how pleased are you with how the class turned out?

A: It's different, and we're very happy with this class. There are a lot of things in the class that we are excited about with different players, different personalities and different skills. We have a 6-foot-2 guard, a 6-foot-4 guard, a 6-foot-8 wing and a 6-foot-11 monster. We have a very versatile group. They all really wanted to be Badgers. They looked at other places, but it didn't take a whole lot of prodding to find out this was the place they wanted to be. We didn't have to go through many smoke and mirrors.

Greg Gard on Ben Brust:

Q: Coach Moore said that the coaching staff didn't want to use the scholarship for the sake of using it, that you wanted to find a player that fits the UW mold. It seems like Ben Brust is a player that fits it perfectly.

A: To find not only a player of his quality but a person of his quality at that time of the year is rare. Ben fills our needs from a basketball standpoint but to have a terrific student and a great person is the total package, which we hope parlays into the next four years. There are no guarantees but Howard did a terrific job of recruiting him and reconnecting with him after we went our separate ways. Howard does a great job of recruiting Chicago and Northern Illinois. It was pretty easy to reconnect with him.

Q: Can you talk about the journey you went through to get this 2010 class done?

A: That's why you can never rest when it comes to recruiting. The old saying goes, "Recruiting is like shaving, the less you do it, the more you look like a bum." It's important to stay on top of things, find out who is available and talk to coaches and players because you never know what's going to happen. We've haven't had a scholarship open late in the spring recruiting period very often. Ryan Evans we signed late but we got a commitment from him at the end of the season. There's a reshuffling of the deck with guys going in different directions, so you want to keep track of who is playing well, who is emerging and who is blossoming. You want to be prepared and connected, even if you don't have a scholarship for them. We watched Ben play because of Duje.

Q: How much warning did you have with Ian leaving and when you mapped out your contingences, was banking the scholarship an option if Ben didn't work?

A: We talked about banking and using it, so it was a matter of finding that right fit and be successful academically and socially. You never know from signing period to signing period what you are going to have available or what is going to be available to you. We had the scholarship open for a little bit when Ian decided to go in a different direction. We talked to a lot of people, looked at a lot of film and see as much as we could. To have a guy available like Ben late is rare and we were real fortunate.

Q: Once the appeal process was finally over and he was given clearance, how much different was the mood of his official visit on that Friday he signed compared to previous visits when his future was in limbo?

A: He can't signed when he is on campus, so he signed when he was at his house before coming up. He signed a financial aid agreement and brought it up with him. He handed it to us, made it official and it was a great relief for him because it was a huge monkey off his back and he could realize his dream of playing in the Big Ten. I know his family is extremely excited to drive a short distance to watch him play. It was a win-win standpoint for him.

He told the people recruiting him in the days coming up toward his official about what he was thinking about doing. I think our track record helped. If we were a .500 team that doesn't make the NCAA Tournament, we might not be that appealing. I think our past players have set a foundation. To make the NCAA Tournament 12 straight years and average 24 wins a year … when you are up close to it and see it day in and day out, you really don't realize it. They say the grass is always greener 100 miles away from campus. People coming in are a lot more aware of the success we have.

Q: It takes an extremely talented freshman to come in and play a lot of time. Wisconsin doesn't have a lot of guards on the process, so can you see Ben or Josh Gasser be a part of your rotation in the fall?

A: I think everybody has a chance at it. Experience plays a role and a benefit that the older guys have. I think also the younger guys coming into the program have benefited and the growth curve will accelerate pretty quick. All four people in our class have high basketball I.Q. I think we'll be able to give them a lot and be able to handle it. They'll have to adjust physically and they'll get oriented to the weight room when they come in the summer. If they follow the lead of our seniors, it'll be good for everybody.


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