Most scouts look at this McDonald’s All-American class and see the one can’t-miss star (Shabazz Muhammad) and a bunch of other guys who may or may not have NBA potential. Say what you want about them, but Findlay Prep standout Anthony Bennett seems like one of those guys that could eventually play in the League. He’s built like a pro, played for one of the top high school programs in the country, and already has the charisma of a seasoned vet.
Plus, he’s the only All-American on the team this year born in Canada.
“In Canada, basketball isn’t too big,” Bennett told HOOPSWORLD. “To be honest, I only started playing basketball about five years ago. Before that, I was kind of a soccer player. I wasn’t too serious with it, but I wanted to try it out. Now, though, it’s all basketball, and I see that I can go far in this. I’ve just got to keep working.”
How does a kid growing up in Brampton, Ontario find his way to basketball, then?
Bennett gives to the credit to a couple of mentors who pointed him in the right direction at the right time of his life.
“It was a couple of my old coaches, Wayne Brooks and Michael McKenzie,” he said. “There was a little rec team in the city called the Brampton Eagles. I went there my first year, but I wasn’t too good. They helped me out, and when I came back I was like the tallest person there at 6’2”. I worked on my post movies, so by the time I grew to 6’5”, 6’6”, I went to West Virginia and found that I wasn’t a post player. I had to develop my skills on the wing, so now I can do both.”
Nobody knows where he’ll “do both” next season, however, because he hasn’t picked a college yet. Washington, Oregon, UNLV, Kentucky, and Florida are all still in the mix, but he’s having a hard time narrowing that down.
“This is a decision that’s going to affect you for the rest of your life,” he said, adding, “It’s going to be so nice (to finally pick a school). It’ll just take the weight off my shoulders and clear my mind out.”
Making his mark on the NCAA and maybe eventually the NBA is going to prove tough, however, considering the injury issues he’s undergone the last couple of seasons. Despite it all, he’s extremely determined to make his impact somewhere, wherever he ends up.
“I spend time in the gym,” he said. “I go once every night, or even two-a-days sometimes. Other than that, I’m just seeing what other people are doing and trying to bring that to my own game.
“I just want to dominate. I want to help the team, make it far into the tournament, and hopefully win a national championship.”
Those are great goals for a high school kid to have, and as good a kid as Bennett is, it’s hard not to root for him. Some university will be lucky to have him, and eventually, some pro team may be lucky, as well.