“It was extremely eye opening, just seeing the culture, the program and the tradition, which you know from afar,” Benson told BadgerNation following his official visit to the campus Wednesday. “All the championships and Final Fours, experiencing the culture was eye opening. It was really cool to meet the guys and experience it.”
After years of avoiding the graduate transfer route under his predecessor, Gard is dipping into the transfer market in hopes of finding some veteran help for a roster that has to replace four senior starters and junior guard Jordan Hill, who will graduate and transfer to Seattle University next season.
The 6-3 Benson can play either spot in the backcourt and has played 113 games in the last three years, averaging 4.4 points. UW’s guard options next season include sophomore D'Mitrik Trice, redshirt sophomore Brevin Pritzl and incoming freshmen Brad Davison and Kobe King.
As a true freshman in 2014-15, Benson posted a 3.13 assist-to-turnover ratio in a season that ended with the Ducks losing to Wisconsin in the second round of the N.C.A.A. tournament. His assist-to-turnover ratio improved to 4.8 his sophomore year, along with averaging a career-best 6.0 points, but he spent last season backing up freshman Payton Pritchard during Oregon’s first Final Four run since 1939.
After announcing his intention to transfer, Benson said UW assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft reached out to “a day or two later.”
“It was awesome to hear from a program of that caliber,” Benson said. “Maybe I was a little bit surprised to hear from them initially, but it was definitely somewhere I thought was a great fit.”
Spending time with Krabbenhoft, assistant coach Howard Moore and Gard throughout his campus visit, Benson said the big message from the staff was for him to come in and make a big impact.
“The main message was wanting someone who has been on winning teams and being able to bring senior leadership,” Benson said. “I have a chance to be a big part of a really good team, a really good program and play for a Big Ten and national championship my senior season.
Originally planning to take an official visit to Butler tomorrow, Benson canceled that visit and will instead move up his official visit to Grand Canyon, located in Phoenix. The Antelopes are an appealing option because Benson grew up in Tempe, Ariz., his brother TJ is on the coaching staff and the program is eligible for the N.C.A.A. tournament out of the WAC next season, having spent the previous four seasons in a probationary period following the program’s transition from Division II.
Acknowledging there are a lot of positives about finishing his college career at home, Benson denied saying it would take something extraordinary to keep him from going to Grand Canyon.
“At this point, this trip was great to experience and both situations would be very ideal and great opportunities,” Benson said. “There are definitely pros to both situations. One you have family and home, the other you have Wisconsin. The culture and tradition is big time, great program, great people, great teammates and great coaches.”
Benson plans a decision shortly after the completion of his visit to Grand Canyon.