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TOUGH DECISIONS AHEAD FOR ANTHONY BENNETT
One of the elite prospects in the Class of 2012 is FIndlay Prep forward Anthony Bennett. The 6-foot-7, 235-pound manchild terrorized rims and opponents all summer long playing with CIA Bounce on the AAU trail or Team Canada in international competition. NBE first identified Bennett as having the potential to be one of the top players in the Class of 2012 when he was playing for Mountain State Academy during the 2009-2010 season. Wrapping up that initial year in the United States after coming down from Brampton, Ont. in Canada, Bennett showed he was developing at a rapid rate at the 2010 National High School Invitational to close the season.
Bennett’s progress has only continued from those first viewings of him in action. Quite frankly, Bennett is a beast. He is every bit of the size he’s listed at and uses his strength to dominate the paint. He loves contact and has no problem finishing right through it inside. Not just a banger, Bennett also has a clean jump out past the three-point line, can put the ball on the floor, and runs in transition like a wing player. He has exploded on the national scene this past spring and summer and it’s easy to see why with his combination of power and skill. Bennett is only scratching the surface of his huge potential and is already drawing comparisons to the likes of Larry Johnson and Carmelo Anthony.
While the national recruiting pundits may have only picked up on Bennett recently, college coaches have been recruiting him vigorously for more than two years. Those efforts have paid off for a luck list of nine schools that currently makes up his list of leaders.
“My top nine list [is] Florida, UConn, Kentucky, West Virginia, Pitt, Oregon, Washington, Ohio State [and] UNLV,” Bennett told NBE earlier this morning. “The ones that I listed are all trying hard and recruiting me [hard], that’s why it’s going to be a hard decision to make later on.”
Since the beginning that NBE has followed Bennett schools such as Florida, UNLV, Connecticut, West Virginia and Pittsburgh have been involved from the time colleges could officially call and recruit players in the 2012 class and before and their loyalty has paid off as being part of the final list.
While Bennett is already agonizing over his ultimate college decision he is having a tough time trying to decide on visits, especially which schools will get his five official visits he is allowed to take.
“As of right now, no visits planned out,” said Bennett, adding with a laugh, “I will do more thinking on that, but I wish I can [officially] visit them all.”
By all indications Bennett is a long ways from a decision and he is staying firm and consistent with the reports that have him headed for a spring decision and signing.
“I will sign in the Spring,” he said. “[It] gives me more time to see what’s going on with the schools and just to watch them play [during the season].”
So with the recruiting story of Anthony Bennett still to be written, his career on the AAU circuit with CIA Bounce has been completed. Bennett has been part of a building AAU juggernaut and basketball explosion out of Canada that continues to grow with more and more young talent coming into the United States. Many sports fans might have followed United States hockey players leaving home to head to Canada to play in the junior ranks, but nowadays the Canadian hoopers are coming south to hit the prep school powerhouses to improve their game and exposure to colleges. Bennett attends powerhouse Findlay Prep in Nevada and the experience over the last year at the school has been nothing but a positive.
“Just playing against top players every day in practice,” said Bennett of the advantages of coming to a USA prep school, specifically at Findlay, adding “and since the gym is open all the time we can go there and just shoot around.”
Findlay will once again tour the country this season playing in the highest profile events. With their star-studded roster they will draw big crowds at each stop and with Bennett still working through the recruiting process the college coaches will be taking in every game they can as well.
With his last season of high school basketball ahead of him it also closed the chapter of his life that involved AAU basketball and the CIA Bounce program. Every single player we talk to at NBE that plays in the CIA Bounce program uses words like family and friendship to describe heir experience in the program and Bennett was no different.
“Everybody treats one another like a family,” Bennett said of the CIA Bounce program. “[We have] been together for years so that just brings us closer, as friends, and as family.”
It was an AAU and camp season full of highlights for Bennett and his CIA Bounce teammates, many of whom also played with him on Team Canada in international competition and at the Nike Global Challenge. Bennett counted his biggest highlight of the summer being a bittersweet memory.
“[The] lasting memory for me was coming in 2nd at the Nike Global Challenge, kind of disappointed we didn’t win but at least we went out with a fight,” he said. “It was the last game of my AAU season with them so I’m happy either way [for the experience with them].”
So as one chapter closes for Anthony Bennett another will soon begin. In the meantime he has big things ahead for himself and his teammates at Findlay Prep and a much-anticipated college decision to come in the spring. Whatever college program is lucky to land the elite 2012 prospect will be getting an impact player on the court as well as a fine individual off the court to represent their school. Stay tuned here as we follow his recruitment and season ahead…