Posted On: 05/21/18 12:08 PM
PH: How would you describe the variety of different defenses geared to neutralize you this past season?
BL: During the beginning of the year, it really wasn’t that bad. Then once I started scoring 25 and then 30 consistently, I really saw a bit of everything. I saw box-and-ones and traps everytime I got the ball. Really in those situations you just have to adjust.
PH: How did you tweak your game from being a 9 PPG scorer as a freshman to averaging 23 as a sophomore and then 25 this past season as a junior?
BL: We actually had a different coaching staff during my freshman year and they were putting me at center. Really, most of my role was predicated on rebounding the ball and scoring inside. I don’t think I had more than a few 3-pointers that entire year. We had a lot of talent that year, I wound up starting at the end of the year.
Then, as a sophomore, I had a completely different role. Coach (Brandon) Arnett, he kind of gave me a green light to shoot the ball from the outside. Coach Arnett and I have a real tight relationship. He’s my travel coach and he’s my high school coach. I definitely worked hard training with him the summer leading into my sophomore year.
Heading into my junior year, I worked really hard in the off-season. I worked at improving my ball handling. I did a lot of jab step stuff, usually working on how to attack the gap. I worked at pull ups, stepbacks, finding methods to free up space and get my shot off. Coach Arnett and I we’re constantly at (Benjamin High) that summer, getting up shots and doing drill work. We have team workouts. It’s kind of hard to get our entire team in there sometimes because everyone plays football.
PH: If I’m not mistaken, you had a brief stint playing football at one point didn’t you?
BL: (Laughs). It was actually while I was in middle school, my eighth grade year. I was about twice the size of most of the kids on the team so I figured it would be a good idea to play. They put me at tight end. I eventually shut it down to focus primarily on basketball.
PH: Which Division-I programs have offered you scholarships so far? Who else is starting to inquire and show interest on the recruiting front?
BL: Right now, as of today, I currently hold offers from FGCU, Winthrop, Radford, Stetson, and Columbia. FGCU has been showing a lot of love and I think they are coming to see me play in July, so I’m pretty psyched about that. I actually am not totally sure about all of the schools which have reached out. Davidson, Princeton, Navy, Army, Yale, and some others.
PH: Well Ben if you have Ivy League programs offering and knocking on the door, you must have quite the academic rap sheet to show for it. What’s your GPA and which are your most challenging classes?
BL: I have a 3.8 GPA. Right now I’m taking two AP courses, calculus and physics.
PH: If you could choose how to solidify your legacy at Benjamin, how would you want to be remembered? How do you want to leave your mark this upcoming senior year?
BL: I think being clutch plays a major part in it. I’ve really learned how much conditioning matters, so that you can produce late in the game or in an overtime game when everyone is gassed. So, I’m working on being able to really get myself to the point where I’m ready to take that big shot and ready to turn in those big plays that win games in decisive times.
PH: Best performance you had this past season?
BL: I think it was my second game back from my ankle injury. We played Westminster Academy, with Zach Scott and Chase Johnston and Dudley Blackwell and those guys. They are so talented all around. I had about 35 points I think in that game, I could barely cut off my left ankle. I was shooting a lot of 3-pointers, if I can remember it right a lot of those points came from 3-point buckets.
Their big man, Anthony Atkinson, is now my AAU teammate in Ball4Lyfe. He’s a real hustle guy at 6-8, he plays so hard.
PH: How would you describe the style of play you guys employ at Ball4Lyfe United?
BL: We’re a really fast paced team, real uptempo. One of our best players, and actually one of the best players out there in Dante Moses, he just committed to Palm Beach State. We’ve got guys like Rodriguez Reid and Dejuan Fripp who really run the offense for us well. If we move the ball really well, I think we can compete with anyone. We really produce off down screens. We’re starting to gel right now.
Our style varies a lot, it depends what the defense gives off. If our opponent sits in a man to man, there’s going to be a lot of drive and kick. If they sit in a zone on us, we can shoot 3-pointers. We’ve got a lot of weapons.