Two years ago, Terrell Myers could see Ben Bentil’s potential. On Wednesday, he could feel it.
“We had a great embrace, and we’ve never hugged,” Myers said. “You can just feel the happiness going through his body, because he knows and I know how much work he has put in to get to this point.”
Bentil came to the United States from Ghana at the age of 15 to concentrate on academics. His athletic, 6-foot-8 frame made a college basketball scholarship a possibility.
The St. Andrew’s senior reached that goal Wednesday by signing a national letter of intent to play at Providence College.
After the ceremony, he gave credit to Myers, his coach at St. Andrew’s the past two seasons.
“He made me who I am right now,” Bentil said. “If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be going to a school like this.”
Providence is 1-0 this season, and went 19-15 overall and 9-9 in the Big East last year. Myers believes Bentil will be a perfect fit as a forward for Friars coach Ed Cooley.
“You have to find a place that fits you,” Myers said. “It’s not about the best league, it’s not about the biggest team. … It’s about where do I fit in, where do I feel at home.”
Bentil, ranked among the nation’s top 100 recruits by most scouts, chose Providence over Miami and Georgetown.
“I think the family style is just like the one here [at St. Andrew’s],” he said. “It won’t be hard for me transitioning. And I think it’s a school that’s going to make history, and I want to be part of it.”
Bentil transferred to St. Andrew’s after spending his freshman year at Haverford School (Pa.). Myers saw unlimited potential, but knew the player had a long way to go.
“When he first got here he was more of a rebounder, an energy guy,” Myers said. “Now he has the ability to put the ball on the floor, and he has become a very good passer. He really understands the game now.”
Bentil rises at 6 a.m. every morning to shoot at least 500 jumpers before school. He has developed a very effective 12- to 15-foot shot, and Myers has allowed him to play away from the basket to aid in his progression.
“I knew when he first got here he may not grow anymore,” Myers said. “So if I could develop his outside skills, when he goes into college he would be able to play right away.
“He can flat out shoot the ball. He’s probably our best shooter. Unfortunately, he’s not able to show it as much because he’s one of the bigger guys in the state. But when he goes to college, I think the transition will be seamless.”
Bentil enjoys math, and plans to major in business management and one day be involved in importing and exporting goods. He also wants to see how far basketball can take him, and already realizes the importance of defense.
“At the college level, you can’t be on the floor if you’re not playing defense,” Bentil said. “I feel like defense is the strongest part [of his game]. The ability to alter or block shots, make the offensive player feel uncomfortable.”