Jerrelle Benimon, 6-foot-8 power forward, Towson
2013-14 stats: 18.7 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 3.6 APG, 71.3 FT%
Equipped with an uncanny feel for the game for his size and position, Benimon has been one of the nation’s top mid-major players in college basketball for the last two years. A Georgetown transfer, Benimon dominated the Colonial Athletic Association, essentially functioning as a point forward, while also piling up double-doubles as a rugged big man. While he isn’t an explosive athlete, he does produce and buoyed by a strong showing at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament that proved his effectiveness didn’t suffer against better overall competition, Benimon is an intriguing pro prospect.
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Career highlights: A lightly-regarded recruit out of Northern Virginia, Benimon played sparingly in his two years at Georgetown, averaging 1.4 points and 1.9 rebounds as a freshman and 1.3 points and 1.8 rebounds as a sophomore before opting to transfer to Towson. After sitting out for a season due to NCAA policy, he exploded, averaging 17.1 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.9 blocked shots per game while shooting 53.3 percent from the field and 40.8 percent from three-point range, earning CAA player of the year and conference all-defensive team honors, with a 30-point, 18-rebound outing against Temple, a 20-point, 21-rebound effort against Oregon State and a 26-point, 12-rebound, seven-block performance against William and Mary highlighting his junior season. As a senior, Benimon posted per-game averages of 18.7 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.2 blocks, again receiving league player of the year and all-defensive team recognition, registering the first triple-double, a 17-point, 18-rebound, 10-assist game, in Towson history along the way.
Strengths: Never shirking his interior duties, Benimon uses his strong frame to make an impact as a post-up scorer, rebounder and defensive force, though some of the latter can be attributed to the mediocre opponents he regularly faced at Towson. He was also effective on the perimeter, knocking down shots from the outside, handling the ball and doling out assists, though some of that stems from low-post double teams. Possessing a great understanding of the game and the willingness to do things other than be a scorer, Benimon’s versatility as a whole is the element of his game that sets him apart.
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Weaknesses: Not the most explosive athlete or especially big for his position, Benimon could have issues guarding taller and quicker players at the next level. His unconventional game, as effective as it was in college, isn’t necessarily a fit for every system. As a scorer, Benimon could also have issues as an individual scorer, given that he could have trouble scoring over length and won’t have many isolation opportunities.
Draft projection: Potentially a mid-to-late second-round pick, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Benimon go undrafted, though he’ll certainly get a chance to show his value in both summer league and likely training camp. Landing in the right spot is of paramount importance, but he’ll have to demonstrate that some parts of his skill set translate to the next level. If that happens, Benimon has a chance to be fringe rotation player and grow from there, though he could start his career overseas or in the D-League.