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Northwestern men’s basketball player previews: C Barret Benson

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The junior center is still firmly behind Dererk Pardon in the rotation.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Penn State vs Northwestern Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

Who he is:

Junior; center; 6-foot-10; 240 pounds; Willowbrook, Ill.

The stats:

1.8 points per game; 2.2 rebounds; 2.1 fouls; 9.6 minutes; .553/.000/531 shooting splits

2017-2018 review:

Benson was not productive during his sophomore season. In his limited minutes backing up starting center Dererk Pardon, Benson was neither an offensive force nor a defensive stalwart. Coming off a promising freshman season, his offensive and defensive ratings trended in the wrong direction, per sports-reference, while his turnover percentage skyrocketed, despite a decrease in usage percentage.

Strengths:

Benson is the tallest player on a team that is lacking in size in the middle. Pardon is a good defender and individual rebounder, but he has had trouble banging with Big Ten brutes like Nick Ward and Isaac Haas on the block. When Pardon gets into foul trouble, Benson is capable of stepping in for short stretches to provide some rim protection. He had the highest block percentage on the team last season.

Weaknesses:

If Benson isn’t dunking the ball, he’s not that helpful on offense. He had the third-lowest assist percentage on the team, and over 65 percent of his shot attempts last season came at the rim, per hoop-math. Defensively, Benson averaged the most fouls per 40 minutes on the team, a sign that he’s still learning the nuances of collegiate defense.

Expectations:

With Pardon still on the roster taking up at least 30 minutes at the center spot, Benson is unlikely to see his role change significantly from last season. In the final two games of the season, however, head coach Chris Collins experimented with playing both big men together with good initial results, something he may try again if injuries strike. Regardless, it’s important for Benson to continue developing; next season, he could be the team’s starting center.