Former Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) football star J.T. Daniels will be at USC during what would be, under most circumstances, his senior year of high school. Newton (Covington, Ga.) Class of 2019 basketball standout Ashton Hagans is on the verge of heading to Kentucky early.
Now, a hockey stalwart in Minnesota will be leaving high school a year early to join one of the country’s elite programs.
As the Star Tribune reports, Edina (Minn.) junior defenseman Ben Brinkman will graduate early and join the University of Minnesota hockey program for the 2018-19 season.
Brinkman, 17, was named to the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Boys Hockey Second Team this past winter.
The Golden Gophers are getting a top recruit in the 6-foot-1, 210-pound blue liner. A Star Tribune first-team All-Metro selection as well as his ALL-USA accolades, Brinkman had 11 goals and 33 assists in 28 games as captain for the Hornets in 2017-18. He was also a captain his sophomore year, when he scored 12 goals.
In what was likely his final high school contest, the third-place game against Centennial (Circle Pines, Minn.) Brinkman had three assists and a goal in the Hornets’ 11-0 victory.
Brinkman gave a verbal commitment to Minnesota in December 2015, per the Star Tribune, and was the No. 5 overall selection by the Waterloo Blackhawks in the USHL futures draft in 2016.
The Gophers open with defending NCAA champion Minnesota-Duluth on Oct. 6 – two days after Brinkman’s 18th birthday.