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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.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

GRIZZ TALK: Greg Kampe talks about Kito in the draft

This is just part I in a three-part discussion with Oakland coach Greg Kampe. Part II is a flashback to last season.

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.)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Benson impresses at NBA Combine

It comes as no secret to those who have been paying attention to Oakland hoops outside of the NCAA tournament the past two years, but center Keith Benson appears to be introducing himself to a new audience of potential employers at the Chicago job fair.

Here's a sampling of what the impressed sightseers said via Twitter Friday afternoon:
  • @rpravato (Stacheketball contributor): Chuckling at all these people just now figuring out who Keith Benson is
  • @vgoodwill (Detroit News): Keith Benson outjumped the marker in workouts. Meaning he jumped past 12 feet. #WOW
  • @Patrick_Hayes (Great Lakes Hoops/Pistons Powered contributor): Always underrated athletically
News out of Chicago during measurement day Friday is that Benson leaped up and touched higher than the 12-foot measuring stick given to prospective NBA players. Several tweets from reporters insinuated Benson is doing incredible things there, but you're probably used to that.
One report said Benson was smaller than listed at Oakland, and that could be a potential detractor for teams, because the one knock on Benson has always been his size.
MLive reported Friday that Benson doesn't yet have a date to work out for the Pistons, but does expect to line something up. He told the Detroit Free Press playing for his home team would be "huge." Kito could fit the bill for the Pistons, who have two second-round picks, Nos. 33 and 52 in the June 23 mixer.
Benson ranks in the second half of a recent top-10 list of center prospects.
"He's got the requisite size and terrific hops, but needs to get much stronger," the reports says.
Projections usually have Benson going late in the first round or early second, and multiple mock drafts have him settling down in Boston after the Celtics dearly missed big man Kendrick Perkins this postseason. Some prognosticators have him joining fellow Summit League alum George Hill in San Antonio. Hill went No. 26 to the Spurs in 2008. Valparaiso legend and new coach Bryce Drew went No. 16 back in 1998. Benson would of course become the first Oakland player drafted by an NBA team, but Rawle Marshall played in the NBA for Dallas and Indiana from 2005-2007 after signing with the Mavericks as an undrafted free agent.
Pretty good job done by not only Benson, who recently signed with agent Leon Rose (LeBron, Carmelo, Dwyane Wade), but the Oakland staff that snatched him away from Fairfield along the recruiting trail.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

REPORT: Oakland will also play Arizona, Arkansas in non-conference schedule

According to a report in the Detroit News, Oakland's non-conference schedule is already taking shape. In addition to non-conference tips at Alabama and Houston, the Grizzlies are reportedly also playing at Arkansas and Arizona.
The reports cites an early preseason poll by Fox Sports which has the Crimson Tide (21) and Wildcats (25) in the top 25.
The Grizzlies will host Tennessee in the second year of a three-year contract with the Vols, who Oakland upset last December. Oakland hosts Michigan at The Palace this year. A date with Michigan State, which Oakland has played the past several years, has not been rumored, yet.