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Drew Ellis covers Oakland University basketball for The Oakland Press. His news and notes keep you up to date with Golden Grizzlies men's basketball.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

ESPN takes notice of Benson, Summit race

ESPN's College Basketball Nation blog suggests Oakland center Keith Benson as one of the names fans should know outside of the major conferences. What they said about the all-league center:

"This 6-foot-11 string bean could slip through a wet straw and emerge dry. But what Benson lacks in bulk, he makes up for with great timing and an ability to get off his feet quickly. Last season's Summit League Player of the Year dropped 28 points and nine rebounds on Pitt in the NCAA tournament. Luckily for Grizzlies coach Greg Kampe, a postseason thumb injury kept Benson from working out for NBA teams, thus a return for his senior season."

They also compliment another Birmingham Detroit Country Day alum, Ray McCallum, who chose to play for his father at Detroit. They call him "an instant Horizon League Player of the Year candidate."

"He is a true point guard with good size to go with off-the-charts basketball IQ. He has the ability to run the team, finish above the rim on the break and score with range to the arc, including a smooth midrange game."

(Two of the best mid-major players in the country in the same region and they can't get a game together?)

The blog went on to say the Summit League race is one to watch, citing Oakland, Oral Roberts and IUPUI as the main contenders:

"Of the three, the Golden Grizzles probably lost the most this offseason: Senior starters Derick Nelson and Johnathon Jones both graduated, leaving a pair of holes on coach Greg Kampe's perimeter. Of the three, Oakland also retained the most. That's thanks to the return of senior forward
Keith Benson, the consensus Summit League preseason player of the year and one of the best rebounders and interior scorers you've never heard of. With Benson back, the Grizzlies have the kind of player mid-major leagues like the Summit rarely see, and it's hard to imagine any of the league's teams slowing him down in 2010-11.
IUPUI and Oral Roberts will certainly try, though. IUPUI lost its best player in 6-7 forward Robert Glenn, but the rest of the squad is back. ORU returns three stars from last year's 20-win campaign: Sophomore Warren Niles, junior Dominique Morrison, and senior Michael Craion. Both teams will consider anything less than an NCAA tournament berth a failure, meaning a two-way race to top Oakland -- get ready for a lot more double-teams, Mr. Benson -- and a pretty equal three-way race for the top of the conference. Don't say you weren't warned. "


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