Then there’s Ben Brust; the 6-foot-1, 196 pound sharpshooter out of Wisconsin. Brust, who graduates this spring, now enters his final stage of competitive hoops. Every team needs a sharp shooter, and for the next two months Ben will have to prove to NBA clubs that he’s their guy.
Brust’s entire career has been tagged as underdog. Brust was lightly recruited out of Illinois, then after a controversial de-commitment, landed in Madison to play for Bo Ryan. Brust won’t be fazed by the notion of him not being drafted.
Ben understands that if he’s undrafted his next step is to seek a spot on a training camp. If that doesn’t work, he’ll head outside the states, most likely to Europe to work towards a U.S. return.
What he can bring
Brust will be one of the best shooters the draft has to offer. His range exceeds the NBA length of 23 feet, 9 inches. Give Brust any bit of space, chances are he’s shooting; and making.
Ben Brust now stands as Wisconsin’s all-time three-point leader. Brust ranked among the Big Ten’s top shooters this reason. His 81 triples this season placed him second in the conference, behind Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell.
General Managers in need of a spot up shooter have to give Brust a look. If given a great point guard, Brust can flourish. The only knock I have on Brust’s shooting is that he tends to be picky with his shot selection. With an experienced passer, Brust won’t have to worry about finding his shot. Brust could then set up around the perimeter and wait until the ball is in his hands.
Brust is also an extremely gritty player. Whether it’s diving after loose balls, or instinctive double teams, Brust knows where to be. As he has shown in his three years of experience at the varsity level, Brust wins these small, quick thinking battles. Brust’s intelligence will also help him in picking up the pace of the NBA.
Where he struggles
The big red flag is Brust’s size, and unfortunately for Ben there’s also nothing he can do about it. The average NBA shooting guard is about 6’6”; five inches taller than Brust. NBA coaches will have to find a way to work around Brust’s size, which I’m sure they wouldn’t enjoy.
Brust is an efficient passer, but his ball handle skills are nowhere near the average NBA point guard. It’s really a pick your poison type of situation. You put Brust at the point and you take the risk of him loosing the ball against top-notch defenders. If you put Brust at shooting guard, he’ll be matched-up against athletes that’ll make him look like a shrimp. A combination that could work is Brust guarding the opposing point position if his point guard is a larger, Russell Westbrook type.
I don’t see any NBA GM taking the risk on Brust in the draft. Brust’s miniature size along with the few skills he possesses will scare teams away. I do however, see either a local (Bucks/ Timberwolves) or a veteran (Spurs/ Heat) team inviting him to training camp. The Bucks have always been open to giving ex-Badgers a shot, where as the Heat look to surround the big three with affordable shooters.
Most likely, Brust takes his talents over seas where he’ll fit in nicely. What Brust has on his side is work ethic and maturity. Brust will put in whatever work it takes for him to make it to the next level. It’s time for Brust to yet again take on the underdog role as he begins his journey in becoming a professional athlete.