Eli Brooks living up to expectations
The Spring Grove junior is living up to his Division-I caliber potential, leading the York-Adams League in scoring and has the Rockets off to a 6-1 start.
The list on the phone of Spring Grove boys' basketball coach James Brooks had at least two dozen schools on it.
As he scrolled through it, the list seemed to never end. It consisted of the name of each school that has made some sort of contact with his son — Rockets' star guard Eli Brooks — over the past couple years. They were all interested in luring him to take his talents to their school at the next level.
At the moment, of the schools on that list, nine have made official offers, the most recent one coming from Lehigh University last week. The majority of them are coming from schools in mid-major conferences. However, he's shown enough ability to warrant interest from some school in South Bend, Indiana, called Notre Dame. Ever heard of it? The Irish made a visit to Spring Grove over the summer.
So, yeah, the kid can play.
But, with great success comes great expectations, creating a bit of a double-edged sword for Eli.
As only a junior, he still has a season and a half with Spring Grove, certainly a bonus for the program that has been on the rise since he — and his father — arrived on the varsity scene two years ago. Of course, that also creates another year of lofty expectations for the teenager from the outside world, which expects him to constantly dominate every game, not understanding that growing pains will be part of his development.
"I know (the schools) like me for a reason and so, you should just stick to that no matter what and let your true character show," Eli said about the outside noise.
Still, Eli hasn't shown any of those growing pains, yet. And if he's gone through them, he's done a pretty nice job of masking them with his play because, if he's been anything this year, it's been consistent.
The lanky 6-footer isn't the physical specimen that most people expect out of an NCAA Division I college recruit. In fact, he looks like your average high schooler, it's just he's much better at basketball than almost every player he faces, and his play makes sure you know it.
He leads the York-Adams League in scoring, averaging a staggering 28.9 points per game this season, and has scored more than 30 on a few occasions. He doesn't coast through games just because he knows he's better than everyone, although at times it might not look like he's trying, but that's just because the game and everything he does comes so effortlessly. Instead, he takes over, while still making the rest of his teammates better and, in turn, making the Rockets one of the best teams in the league.
"I like to consider myself a leader, no matter what the situation is," he said. "So, I feel like it doesn't add any pressure to me. Just have to go out there and prove myself."
James Brooks would second that sentiment, having the privilege of coaching Eli from the very beginning and witnessing his development from a different perspective than the rest of us. If there's one part of his character that's helped him the most, his father said, it's his ability to act as a floor general on the court.
"He was always like a little coach on the floor," James said. "You could always give him something and he would perform it and get the others to rally around it. So, he's been a blessing to our program, not just because of his ability as a player, but because he understands what the big picture is and what we're trying to accomplish and he's good at relaying it to his teammates."
Around the league, Brooks is known as the kid racking up the D-I offers and as one of the best pure scorers in the league. That's hardly the only part of his game, however, that turns heads, and it's not the only way he wants to be known.
"I've been underestimated in passing just because I've led my team in scoring," Eli said. "But, I think that's a lost aspect of my game to people. ... If you get everyone involved, it's a big help for myself and everybody else because it gets everybody involved, which contributes to offense and defense, and when everybody gets involved, you can see that we score 70-80 points a game."
Brooks' calm demeanor and humble approach to basketball — the same traits that have made him so successful on the court — are what's helping him take this recruitment whirlwind in stride. He doesn't have a set time on when he'll make his official decision on where he'll play in college, but does expect it to be sometime by next fall.
Players such as Brooks don't come out of York County very often, so when they do, you need to appreciate them.
Fortunately, we still have another whole year to watch him grace the local courts with his talents. So, rather than expect the world out of him, we should enjoy what he has to offer.
Still, even if you are the type of person who likes to heap an immense amount of pressure on a high school athlete, it more than likely won't matter, because he'll just go out and dominate anyway.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org