Boys Basketball: All of a sudden, Mundelein grad Brust is off the races
Ben Brust takes an off-balanced shot against Zion-Benton during the 2008-09 high school season. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:53AM
There was a time when Ben Brust wanted nothing to do with NASCAR.
When the former Mundelein High School basketball standout was near a TV and a race was on, he flew — toward a remote control.
“I would change the channel right away,” recalled the 2010 MHS graduate. “I hated watching it.”
That was before 2010.
Brust now probably knows where NASCAR’s Kevin Harvick has finished in each of the races he entered since then, as well as Harvick’s average mph per lap at the last few Brickyard 400s in Indianapolis, where Brust met Harvick in 2011.
“Good ol’ No. 2-9,” Brust said of Harvick’s car number. “My brother-in-law (Kurt Vahle) got me interested in Kevin and NASCAR, and I can’t get enough of him and all kinds of races these days. My DVR is filled with Truck Series races, Nationwide Series races and Sprint Cup races. What’s nice, is that NASCAR’s season runs during my offseason.”
Brust wore good ol’ No. 1 for the University of Wisconsin’s men’s basketball team as a sophomore guard in the 2011-12 season. Harvick would have tipped his racing helmet at the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Brust, had he watched the Badgers defeat UNLV 62-51 at UW’s Kohl Center on Dec. 10.
Brust hit all seven of his three-point attempts, and finished with 25 points in 26 minutes against the Runnin’ Rebels. He also struck for seven treys as part of a 21-point performance in a 73-56 win over BYU at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates on Nov. 26.
“I enjoyed playing in that (BYU) game more than any other because it was in front of my family and friends,” said Brust, who came off the bench in all 36 games for the 26-10 Badgers last winter to average 7.3 points. “My favorite game, from a team standpoint, was when we traveled to Ohio State and won (63-60) in such a tough environment. We all knew then we’d be primed for the NCAA Tournament.”
Wisconsin’s season was checker-flagged when it lost to Syracuse 64-63 in a Sweet 16 tournament game. Brust netted nine points on 3-for-6 shooting from three-point territory.
“So close, so close,” said Brust who averaged 24.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 3.1 steals as a senior at Mundelein. “I remember it well, especially our last shot (taken by senior guard Jordan Taylor). He nearly made it. We were right there, in a position to succeed again.”
Brust is poised to make more strides for Badgers coach Bo Ryan’s club in 2012-13. As a freshman, he scored 10 points in 45 minutes all season. Brust reached double figures in 10 games as a sophomore, and ranked sixth in scoring among Big Ten reserve players.
“I learned a lot during both seasons,” said Brust, a life sciences communications major. “I want to be more of a complete player, not just a three-point shooter. At this level, you have to be solid in all aspects of the game. It’s been a growing process for me.”
He wouldn’t mind going through a harrowing — and thrilling — process around a racetrack soon. But not directly behind the wheel of a NASCAR vehicle.
“I would like to experience a ride-along with somebody who knows what he’s doing,” Brust said. “I’d like the driver to push it to the limit so that I could feel what he feels during a race.”
He’d like the driver to be Harvick, aka “Happy.”
“Kevin is a solid guy — a normal guy,” Brust said. “So many NFL and NBA players care so much about their image. I prefer a down-to-earth guy, a guy like Kevin.” ~