Barret Benson, a 6-foot-8 237-pound forward from Illinois, doesn’t feel like waiting to emerge as one of the premiere big man prospects in his class. In fact, that’s the 2016 big man’s stated goal.
“This summer I just want to establish myself as one of the elite big men in the country, or at least in the state for sure,” Benson said during a conversation on Monday. “Just keep playing hard. Right now it’s so early on in the recruiting process that all I can do right now is just play and let my play attract the coaches. So I’m going to keep playing hard and develop my skills.”
His play has indeed attracted the attention of coaches from some of the most successful basketball programs in the Big Ten. Benson doesn’t have any offers at this early juncture in his high school career, but interest in his game has really started to pick up in recent weeks.
At the moment, Benson is considered a strictly back-to-the-basket player, and a good one at that. But he’s working on expanding his game to include midrange shots and perimeter skills.
“I would say I’m a traditional big. I like to play with my back to the basket. I also like to run out and get easy transition points,” Benson said. “I like to rebound, I would say, getting 2nd-chance opportunities for my teammates. I like to take some midrange jump shots as well.
“Right now I’m focusing on developing my perimeter game. I’ve been working a lot on my inside game, but I think maybe I should develop my ball-handling and shooting to be a more versatile player.”
Indiana, Purdue and Michigan highlight the schools showing interest in Benson. He also has had contact from Northwestern, Boston College, Dayton, DePaul and the University of Detroit.
“I went out and visited Northwestern two weeks ago, and then I got a call from Tim Buckley at Indiana, he called my school,” Benson said. “I got some questionnaires from a few other schools. I’m going to Michigan’s camp (June 1st) and Wisconsin’s camp (June 8th-9th), and I got some calls from Purdue as well.”
Both of Benson’s parents went to Purdue and his father, Cliff, played football for the Boilermakers. Benson said where his parents went to school has no bearing on his decision.
While the Hinsdale, IL native hasn’t had any direct contact with Michigan’s coaching staff, he is looking forward to meeting them at Michigan’s College Practice Camp and testing himself against the competition there. Benson has only been to Michigan once, for a football game against Purdue a few years ago — before the William Davidson Player Development Center was built.
Benson caught some of Michigan’s NCAA tournament run this past season and came away impressed with the Wolverines’ premiere big man, Mitch McGary.
“I think Mitch McGary’s a great player. The way he plays, just the intensity he brings to the court, it’s just great to watch,” Benson said. “I can see myself trying to bring that type of intensity to a program like Michigan, or any program for that matter. I definitely liked the way Michigan used its bigs.”
While it is still very early on in the process for Benson, he is quickly developing into an intriguing big man prospect in the class of 2016 and is certainly one to watch. He hasn’t thought all that much about what he’s looking for in a school just yet, but he likes what he sees at Michigan.
“I know they’re a great school academically, and they’re basketball team is doing great right now,” Benson said. “They had a great run in the tournament. So I could definitely see them making future runs at the national championship.”