College Sports

‘It’s home.’ Local big man becomes South Carolina’s second commitment in 2020 class

The local flavor to South Carolina men’s basketball’s 2020 recruiting class continued Friday when Ridge View forward Ja’Von Benson announced his commitment to the Gamecocks.

Benson picked USC over College of Charleston, and joined A.C. Flora big man Patrick Iriel as Frank Martin’s latest pledges.

“It’s home,” Benson told The State. “I feel welcome. Coaches didn’t necessarily talk about playing time or what they could do for me from a basketball standpoint. They just talked to me about what they can do for me when it comes to getting a degree. ... That was a big time decision-making move for me.”

“It has been a school of his from middle school,” Ridge View coach Yerrick Stoneman said of the 6-foot-8 Benson. “He can definitely develop into an NBA-type player at South Carolina. He is not afraid of working and competition. He wants to go against somebody better and wants to be challenged.”

Benson and the 6-foot-10 Iriel were AAU teammates with Upward Stars. Their commitments to Carolina puts the Gamecocks — for now — over the 13-scholarship limit for 2020-21, but that’s expected to balance out with the potential of A.J. Lawson’s early NBA draft entry or transfers.

The Gamecocks have been eyeing Benson for a while and finally offered him on Aug. 1. Benson took his official visit to USC last month.

“I was able to see the bigger picture there,” Benson said of his visit. “It’s not all about basketball, it’s about getting a degree and being successful in the world. I love the players. I’m cool with Trae Hannibal. He kind of told me the ins and outs of going to that type of school. I think my official (visit) was one of the best weekends I’ve ever had. What else can you say.”

247Sports ranks Benson as the No. 3 prospect in the state for Class of 2020.

Benson, who began his career at Westwood, transferred to Ridge View and was part of the Blazers’ 2018 Class 4A state championship team. Playing alongside Georgetown signee Malcolm Wilson, Benson averaged 10 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.2 block shots this past season.

Benson scored 14 points and 10 rebounds in the state championship win over Wilson.

Stoneman said Benson could be a small forward or stretch four (power forward) on the next level. Benson has spent the offseason working with Ridge View’s strength and conditioning coach on his lateral quickness.

Benson has improved on his outside shot and also has transformed his body in the past eight weeks. He is a solid 240 pounds with a 7-4 wingspan.

“There is a lot of potential with him,” Stoneman said. “He is young in the game of basketball and there is a great opportunity ahead of him. And once he gets into a strength and conditioning program and nutrition program, I think he will develop even more and his productivity will continue to grow.”

South Carolina is losing senior big men Maik Kotsar and Micaiah Henry after this season. Additions of Benson and Iriel help add depth to a post group that is expected to include junior Alanzo Frink and sophomores Wildens Leveque and Jalyn McCreary in 2020-21.

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Lou Bezjak is the High School Sports Prep Coordinator for The State and Island Packet. He has covered high school sports in South Carolina for 16 years and is a two-time South Carolina Sports Writer of the Year by the National Sports Media Association.
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