I personnally like steel studs. I 've used them in basements quite a few times in the past. I stopped using them when the prices became too high. Back then I would shoot a PT 2x4 into the floor and lay the track on the stud. You would need to isolate the wood from the steel now due to the chemical makeup of the new wood. You would also need to upgrade your fasteners. Or eliminate the wood and attach them right to the floor.
I've never had any rusting issues in the basements I've used them in. All the basements have access panels for various reasons so monitoring is simple enough.
I always leave 1 1/2" of space behind the wall for ventilation around the perimiter.
Others will have issues with steel in the basement.
Wood is actually cheaper than metal these days. I use wood for residential purposes, but if a customer specified metal, I wouldn't hesitate to use it. The labor is probably a bit faster. If your friend is donating or greatly discounting his labor, I'd use what he wants to use....
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