Summer Riser In Demand

Gulf Shores Academy power forward Justin Benson used his July opportunities wisely. The sweet shooting forward has seen his options increase exponentially.

Benson Makes Presence Felt

By the time the Houston Hoops reached the Peach Jam they needed a little change and more help for Ndudi Ebi. Enter Justin Benson.

"When I hit the circuit I just wanted to explode," Benson said. "I didn't know how much time I was going to get. Before this summer no one knew me except the cats in Houston." In North Augusta, Benson converted a game-winner for the Hoops and was pivotal in their second-place finish.

What stood out about him was his ability to play inside but legitimately take his man away from the basket and bust jumpers on him. Also, Benson didn't shy away from the "big" shots. As much as anyone on his AAU team, he wanted the basketball. Since the Peach Jam, his recruitment has changed.

"It's just like ever since the Peach Jam there have been a lot more schools calling. Now, they want to give me a chance to play on the college level." Before the Peach Jam, Pepperdine had done a lot of work on him and he remains loyal to the program.

"You can't bite the hand that feeds you," Benson said of his relationship with Pepperdine. "They were there first." Surely, Pepperdine will get a good chance to land him, but he's going to look around. "Whichever school I like the best when I take a couple campus visits, then I'll decide from there."

In addition to the Waves, Houston, Oklahoma, Kent State, DePaul and New Mexico State are chasing him, each to varying degrees. "There are other schools. I like UTEP too."

Benson can't take an official visit until he takes care of some official business and that means taking the ACT. He's scheduled to do so Sept. 28. He already has a trip set to Pepperdine for Oct. 11.

Benson is quick to point out that he likes his Gulf Shores team. He says Ronnie Norman is up to 7-4 and 290 pounds. "He just came from Mississippi. Once he starts getting more aggressive … he runs the court, he plays hard and blocks shots. He's not a Shaq but once he catches and knows he can takeover he's going to be dangerous."

Sounds like somebody we already know.

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