Creighton's move to the new Big East certainly didn't hurt its chances of securing an oral commitment from a junior college guard with New York City roots.
But Iowa Western Community College's Devin Brooks said the Bluejays' tradition, style of play and fan base had him interested regardless of whether they had changed conferences.
He compared Creighton's move to the new league as the cherry on top of the sundae.
“Being from the East Coast, I really wanted to have an opportunity to play in front of my family,” Brooks said. “Their move worked in my favor and got me thinking a little more about them.”
When asked if he would have been just as interested had the Bluejays remained in the Missouri Valley Conference, Brooks emphatically replied, “Yes.”
Two Valley schools — Illinois State and Southern Illinois — were among a group that Brooks was heavily considering before picking Creighton. Brooks said he had received recruiting interest from about 35 schools throughout his sophomore season.
Interest in Brooks, Iowa Western coach Jim Morris said, really heated up after the 6-foot-2 guard helped the Reivers reach the quarterfinals of the NJCAA national tournament last month at Hutchinson, Kan.
“He and Chris Jones, who is going to Louisville, were the guards everyone seemed to be talking about at nationals,” Morris said. “Devin really played well, and he had 29 against Jones in our elite eight game against Northwest Florida.
“The recruiting interest really took off from there.”
Morris said Texas A&M, Saint Louis, St. John's and Seton Hall were among the schools that made a late push for Brooks.
“And Ole Miss really came after him hard,” Morris said. “He came into my office about two weeks ago with a list of 21 schools that we talked about. In the end, I think he just felt he fit well at Creighton.”
Brooks averaged 15.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists this season for an Iowa Western team that averaged 84.2 points per game and finished 32-3. As a freshman, Brooks averaged 14.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists.
Brooks grew up in Harlem, N.Y., and attended St. Raymond High School. The school's website lists more than 40 players who went on to play Division I basketball.
Morris described Brooks as a prototypical New York City guard with a bit more discipline to his game.
“He's not quite as wild as some guards you see from that area,” Morris said. “But Devin has all the dribble moves that you think of when you're talking about New York City guards. He's a guy that it's hard to take the ball from, and he's very deceptive.
“He's not as much of a driver as some New York guards, but I think he has a nice mid-range game and he can shoot the 3. And when he needs to, he does drive the ball.”
Morris said Brooks will need to work on getting stronger but his skills should allow him to make an immediate impact next season.
“I'd say he's pretty close to being ready for that level,” Morris said. “He played a lot of point for us. He's more of a scoring point guard that can break you down off the dribble. He's hard to guard.
“He's got good length and he has the capabilities of being a really good defender. He'll probably have to improve his defense at the next level, but he can play at that end, too.”
In describing his game, Brooks said, “I'm a scoring guard, but I like to put the ball in other people's hands. I think one of my best skills is that I'm able to find the open guy. And I'm a guy that really likes to attack the basket.”
Playing junior college basketball across the Missouri River allowed Brooks to attend several Bluejay games last season. He said the atmosphere at the CenturyLink Center contributed heavily to his decision to select Creighton.
“Their fan base is tremendous,” he said. “The support they get is so high, and I really wanted to play at a place like that. Being so close, I have had a chance to play with a lot of their guys in open gyms.
“Their guys all seem really cool, and I'm looking forward to getting to know them a lot better.”
Brooks will be the fourth member of Creighton's 2013 recruiting class when he signs a letter of intent later this month. He'll join Zach Hanson of Pierre, S.D.; Toby Hegner of Berlin, Wis.; and Darian Harris of Springdale, Ark., as incoming scholarship players next season. The three freshmen signed letters of intent last fall.
The Bluejays lose three seniors from this season's 28-win team, and could lose a fourth player if All-American Doug McDermott decides to leave early for professional basketball. If McDermott returns, Creighton coach Greg McDermott has the option of paying for his son's educational expenses next season and freeing up a scholarship.
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