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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.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

College limits kept Benson from adding bulk, but NBA will ensure he beefs up

Teams and other NBA personnel came calling for Oakland coach Greg Kampe following center Keith Benson's strong showing at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. Many were impressed with his height and length and that well-noted leaping ability drew some praise, too.

“Most everybody (who has called) is questioning his motor and his toughness,” Kampe said. “I told them he's one of the toughest players to ever play. That's wrong to question his toughness. The only issue he's got is he's light in the (butt). In that league, they want everyone to be big and strong and he could get pushed around.”

Listed at 230 pounds by Oakland, Benson weighed in at just 217 at the Combine. He did, however, have the third-biggest hands and tied Enes Kanter for the second-tallest standing reach at 9-foot-1.5. Kampe said Benson weighed 226 when he was weighed last fall and NCAA and financial constraints made it difficult to add more bulk to Benson.

“It'll be different in the pro game because he's not going to college,” Benson said. “His life is going to be (focused on) getting bigger. There were so many limitations we had because of NCAA rules and financially. He needs to eat 3-4 times a day. Things like that that we can't go out and financially afford for him and we couldn't control his time because of class. The (NBA) club is going to control that. He's going to have the financial means to buy the things that he needs to put on the weight. You see a lot of guys that, when they get in to the pro game, they get much bigger. That'll happen to Keith, too.”

An NBA team will have personnel dedicated to their effort of shaping Benson into a bigger center and the added tactic of levying fines for any perceived lack of effort.

“We taught him how to do it right and we talked to nutritionists and did all that stuff with him,” Kampe said. “We tried to give him all the knowledge we could give him. He was a college kid when he was with us. His metabolism will slow down and he's going to have a personal (trainer) with him. They'll have somebody on him whose job it is to get him up to 240-250 or whatever they want him to get to. They can do that for him.”

The 6-foot-11 Benson has worked out for Houston and San Antonio thus far, and according to USA Today, has visits scheduled with Portland, Boston and Miami. He told MLive Friday he hopes to line up a workout with the Pistons. He's being projected as a late first- or second-roundpick in next month's draft.

Kampe indicated the Miami Heat have interest in Benson with the first pick in the second round, “but everybody is going to tell me positive stuff. When we went through this with Rawle (Marshall in 2005), they were telling me he was going between 15-20 and he never got picked. Keith is different. He's 6-foot-11, he's going to get drafted. It's just a matter of when,” Kampe said.

As the days go by, it'll be interesting to see how Benson's Combine outing affects his draft status.

(Thanks to Corey at Golden Grizzlies Gameplan for unearthing the video of Benson.)

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