Chris Collins and Northwestern knew they needed a big man in the Class of 2016. And now they have one. Center Barret Benson, a local product from Hinsdale South (Ill.), has committed to NU.
Benson tweeted the announcement Monday night:
Benson had 13 scholarship offers, including ones from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Purdue, Kansas State and Vanderbilt. He had also been drawing significant interest from Georgetown and others.
Benson is listed at 6-foot-9 and 240 pounds, and is a traditional back to the basket player. Because of this, Benson's AAU numbers for Illinois Wolves have been underwhelming, but the AAU style gets away from his strengths.
Rated as a three-star recruit by 247 Sports, Benson has a composite rating of .9049, is ranked as the fifth best player in the state of Illinois, the 23rd best center in the nation, and the 156th best player in the nation overall. Both Rivals and ESPN, however, have Benson as a four-star recruit.
Here are his highlights:
His Hudl page has highlights from individual games from this year.
This commitment is crucial, as Benson fills the need. He is seen as the replacement for current big men Alex Olah and Joey Van Zegeren, who will be out of eligibility after this season. That would have left Dererk Pardon as the only true post player on the team, though Pardon is undersized. The other big men currently on the roster — Nathan Taphorn, Gavin Skelly and Aaron Falzon — all project as traditional power forwards (Skelly) or stretch-fours (Taphorn and Falzon).
Barring the addition of a graduate transfer or another class-of-2016 commitment, Benson will immediately become Northwestern's biggest body when he joins the team in 2016. Another addition is certainly possible though, with one scholarship still open. With the projected 2016 big man rotation full of inexperience, perhaps Collins will opt to go that graduate transfer route. Benson could be counted on to play a sizable role right away though.