Posted On: 12/20/19 4:17 PM

Benedictine is considered by many as one of the top high school programs in the entire state of Virginia, as they have been one of the most successful over the past 50 years and have placed numerous players both at big time division one schools and in the pros. However, the past decade hasn’t been that way for the Cadets who have seen other sports programs become very successful while they have struggled to compete at the highest level.

After starting all over with a new coach and a totally new group last year that struggled in a rebuilding process, Benedictine now has a talented and young core to build around that has improved rapidly over the past year and have gotten off to a great start this year. One of their key building blocks is sophomore forward Jaden Daughtry, who I caught up with a few weeks ago after a close win over VES.

A 6’5” inside-out forward, Daughtry can do a little bit of everything for Benedictine and is just starting to scratch the surface with how good he can really be. He spoke with me about the start for the team and how they are exceeding expectations when many wrote them off.

“It’s been going good man, we’ve got off to a really good start,” he said. “We’ve all been progressing since the summer, we’ve been applying pressure defensively and playing together. We aren’t all at full strength, I’m playing with a broken finger, some guys are out sick but we just keep playing hard and keep getting better.”

After that game, Daughtry found out his finger was broken worse than they thought and has been out since then and will miss until January 6th when he gets his pins out. Even with him out Benedictine has gotten off to a 6-3 start playing against some very good competition. He feels like this team could be one that helps rebuild the program moving forward.

“I think that we should be a really good team, the beginning of a powerhouse team,” he said confidently. “We run a lot, we defend hard, we’re big and powerful and pound it down low, we rebound and we’re just an all-around versatile and athletic group.”

When he gets back, Daughtry gives the Cadets a walking mismatch with his blend of size, athleticism and skill set. Built like a linebacker, he can handle on the perimeter against slower guys, use his size against smaller guys in the paint and he’s athletic enough to finish above the rim and rebound well in the paint as well. It’s this versatility that he thinks makes him such an effective player.

“I’m a versatile big forward that can handle the ball on the wing, go down low and shoot the ball well from deep. I can get mismatches and take care of them and just real versatile mostly.”

After a solid freshman season, Daughtry is hoping that this is the year both the Cadets and him can put themselves on the radar. He thinks it’s the right group with the right mindset, and if he plays well enough he’ll be able to help them succeed and blow up himself as well.

“Individually I want to make at least first team or second team All State to get my name out there. As a team I just want us to get better throughout the season, everyone get better and the team to grow together and hopefully get a ring.”

Projected to be a division one player, it will be interesting to see what level Daughtry will be based on his development moving forward. If he continues to develop his perimeter skill set on both ends there will be quite a few college coaches checking him out. Be sure to check out all of the upstart Cadets this season in Richmond.

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