Class of 2005: Ben McCauley

There isn't a whole lot of talent that comes out of western Pennsylvania. Let's clarify that: Basketball talent. <P>

There isn't a whole lot of talent that comes out of western Pennsylvania. Let's clarify that: Basketball talent.

In an area known for its football, Ben McCauley is starting to develop quite a following on the hardwood. One of the 6-9, 225-pound Yough (pronounced Yawk) High (Pa.) junior forward's biggest fans has been the staff at N.C. State.

McCauley is versatile, but his biggest asset may be his mid-range and low-post game. However, he is also able to create mismatches by taking bigger players out on the perimeter. After averaging 22.4 points as a sophomore, he's putting up 24 and 17 this season.

``I'm trying to work on my handle and my perimeter shot," McCauley said. "And my passing. I tend to sometimes give the ball up when I pass."

McCauley played with the Pittsburgh JOTS this past summer and helped lead the under-16 squad to the Sweet 16 at the AAU Nationals. He also ran with the under-17 club at the AAU Nationals.

McCauley, who is also on the high school golf team, will likely be a combo forward at the next level – which makes him attractive to numerous colleges. He's already fielded offers from the Wolfpack – in addition to Pittsburgh, Penn State, Duquesne, Western Kentucky, Eastern Michigan and St. Bonaventure. Xavier and Dayton have also expressed interest. However, the two most aggressive schools of late have been N.C. State and Pittsburgh.

``I never really thought about N.C. State," McCauley said. "When they offered, I couldn't believe it. I didn't ever think something like that would happen."

``From when I've talked to them (the staff), they have a lot of new things going on at the school," he added. "The facilities will be great and it sounds like a terrific environment. I went down there on Memorial Day for a tournament, but I didn't really look at it too much because I didn't know they were interested. I'd like to go down there after the season and either go on an official or an unofficial. That'll probably happen."

That's because there aren't a whole lot of high-major hoop talents from the area. Akida McClain will head to Boston College next year and Brandon Fuss-Cheatham played at Ohio State. There have been others as well, but they are few and far between.

While McCauley, who boasts a 3.5 GPA, is getting plenty of interest, there is one school he'd like to see pick things up.

``I've always liked Maryland," McCauley said. "Even before they won the national title. I really like their coach. It's a great program and it's not too far away. They've sent a couple of letters, but nothing as serious as N.C. State and Pittsburgh."

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