Eli Brooks, a junior guard out of Spring Grove, Pennsylvania, is the latest Michigan Wolverine we will take a look at in our preview coverage ahead of the 2019-20 season, Juwan Howard’s first at the helm of the program.
Here’s a look at his career to this point and how he may factor into this season for the Wolverines.
The Story So Far
Brooks committed to Michigan under John Beilein as a three-star prospect back in July 2016 and was a three-star prospect and the 39th-ranked point guard in the 2017 class, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
Despite the lack of major recruiting accolades, Brooks flashed his strong basketball IQ early on for Beilein’s Wolverines in 2017-18, playing in 31 games as a true freshman and making 12 starts before Zavier Simpson eventually worked his way into being the full-time point guard. He would only average 1.8 points per game, but who Beilein trusted in a pinch and was part of a team that made a run all the way to the NCAA Championship game against Villanova that season.
It was more of the same for Brooks last year (2.5 ppg), as he was one of only five Michigan players to play in all 37 games for the Wolverines, all of which came off the bench for him. While he has the ability to play point guard, Michigan also trusted him enough to sub in and out at times for Jordan Poole last season at the two.
Brooks came to Michigan with a reputation as being a strong shooter, but has struggled to find his shot in a Maize and Blue uniform, shooting only 30.2 percent as a freshman (24.4 percent from three) and 37.8 percent (29.2 percent from three) last year a sophomore. That said, he is a strong defender at the other end of the floor.
How He Fits in 2019-20
Brooks’ role this year seems to be up in the air, though Howard spoke highly of him at Big Ten Media Days as someone that has impressed him so far as they work themselves into shape for the season.
“Eli, man. Wow.” Howard said “That kid right there, I understand why he played his freshman year. He gets it. He is a basketball mind. He picks things up so quick. You have to tell him one time and his IQ, he can apply it quickly.”
Because he’s so coachable and has shown a knack for picking things up quickly, he will very much be in the rotation at guard, though how much remains to be seen. His ceiling could wind up being that he starts at the two-guard next to Simpson, but he lacks the offensive punch to play a ton there, especially if the staff feels as if Franz Wagner can play in that spot at a high level quickly. In terms of if he is able to be the guy that spells Simpson at point guard, that is another spot where it might be tough if David DeJulius can take a step as a sophomore. DeJulius has much more potential offensively and his ability to attack and get to the basket is something that cannot be ignored.
It’s hard to predict how Howard will look to approach things with Brooks, but at the very least he should wind up being a guy who can come off the bench and give you a stop at the other end of the floor. The Wolverines are thin at shooting guard and if this were a Beilein team, Brooks probably is a guy who could have just gotten by on his ball handling, defense and IQ to land in the starting lineup. Given the lack of playmaking ability on the roster mixed with who Howard has been recruiting with the combo guards, Howard may be looking to Frankenstein this whole two-guard operation and Brooks certainly fits into the mix there. If he takes a step forward offensively, that would be a huge development for this basketball team.