This is the news Friar fans were waiting to hear and the NCAA has finally given their final ruling: Ben Bentil can play. The news was first reported by The Providence Journal’s Kevin McNamara.
After a tense few months, which included Bentil not being allowed to go on the team’s planned trip to Italy in August, Ed Cooley and Bentil finally got good news from the NCAA Clearinghouse. It’s unclear exactly what the holdup was but a source said it had nothing to do with grades or test scores. Cooley pointed generally to Bentil’s schooling in Ghana being the culprit. My guess is that it had to do with the reason Bentil was declared a 5th year senior by the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association: lack of paperwork from Ghana. Bentil came to the United States at age 15 from Ghana. Upon getting to the US he enrolled at the Haverford School (PA) for his freshman season before transferring to St. Andrew’s (DE) for his final 3 high school seasons.
According to his coach at St. Andrews, Bentil attended a school from May-July in Ghana before he left for the US. The DIAA interpreted this to be a full year because they had no proof it was only for those 3 months. The potential issues with Bentil starting high school in Ghana and then doing 4 years of high school in the US: 1) it could be a violation of NCAA bylaws which require a certain number of core courses to be completed by a certain time; 2) it could fall under a delayed enrollment which would have meant Bentil had to sit a year in residence and lose a year of eligibility. Luckily it doesn’t matter what the issue is because Bentil is cleared for competition.
After learning that redshirt freshman Rodney Bullock would be lost for the year with a torn ACL, getting Bentil cleared became even more critical for the Friars’ success. Combine the need for depth with reports out of early practices that Bentil has been arguably the most impressive player in most rehearsals on the entire team and you can start to understand how big this is for Ed Cooley. With Bentil being eligible it means Cooley will have 11 healthy and eligible scholarship players to choose from to make up his rotation. He told John Rooke during his most recent radio show that he looks less for a starting 5 and more for a group of 9 players to rotate. Bentil will undoubtedly be part of that 9 man rotation.
With 2015 point guard Justin Robinson committing to Virginia Tech on October 12th Friar fans have been wondering if Ed Cooley and his staff have any other targets in the class of 2015 or would they just hang on to that scholarship and move on to the 2016 class. The reality is that a coaching staff can never stop recruiting and college rosters can change at seemingly any moment so hanging on to the scholarship might mean they use it on a midyear transfer or a spring commitment. With that said, there doesn’t appear to be any targets in 2015 that Cooley and his staff have zeroed in on after Robinson. Memphis wing LaGerald Vick announced his commitment to Larry Brown’s SMU Mustangs on Wednesday and Vick will also reclassify to 2016. Vick had gotten some late interest from the Friars in August and even scheduled an official visit to Friartown but that visit was ultimately cancelled. Davon Dillard was a name being mentioned in late August but I haven’t heard much of anything about him since he transferred from Bowman Academy (IN) to basketball factory Our Savior New American (NY).
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The San Antonio Spurs announced Thursday afternoon that they have released Bryce Cotton along with Josh Davis. It was the longest of longshots that Cotton would make the Spurs’ roster because they returned everyone from their 14 man roster last season and added UCLA’s Kyle Anderson in the late 1st round of the 2014 NBA Draft. Additionally, Cotton didn’t have a great preseason for the Spurs though he did flash potential on occasion.
What Cotton will do now remains unclear. He had interest from multiple NBA teams as a draft and stash prospect (including San Antonio) and I’m sure he would garner interest from a number of international teams as well. While the NBA D-league is a low paying option, Cotton could potentially stick it out in the D-league for a season before making a more long term decision because signing the partially guaranteed deal with the Spurs will leave him with $50,000 if he clears waivers which would supplement a minuscule D-league salary in the range of $18,000 to just over $30,000.
A source indicated that a decision on what Cotton will choose to do from here likely won’t be made for at least a week.