Bentil Helps Draft Stock at Combine
Prior to the 2016 NBA Draft Combine, Providence sophomore forward Ben Bentil was determined to showcase his game and surprise talent evaluators around the league.
“I’m really looking forward to the pre-draft process because I feel like I have a lot to prove,” Bentil told Basketball Insiders last month. “I feel like I’m one of the best players in the country right now. I want to show everyone what I’ve got and see where I’m at [on draft boards].”
Those were some strong words, but Bentil absolutely backed them up at the Combine. Not only did the 21-year-old hold his own during the event’s five-on-five games, he was widely regarded as one of the most impressive players in Chicago after wowing teams with his well-rounded game.
As of now, the 21-year-old is just testing the waters, meaning he can still pull out of the draft since he hasn’t hired an agent. However, the likelihood of Bentil returning to the Friars for his junior season seems pretty slim after his excellent showing at the Combine.
In the first five-on-five game, Bentil contributed 15 points, 11 rebounds and three assists to help his team win by a whopping 40 points. He showed his complete skill set, knocking down his first four shots from the field (including 3-3 three-pointers), rebounding the ball well and playing very good defense. Bentil had the highest Player Efficiency Rating of any player on day one of the Combine, according to DraftExpress. He had another strong outing on day two, finishing with 17 points and six rebounds.
There’s no question that NBA decision-makers took notice of his exceptional play, and he significantly helped his draft stock while in Chicago.
Entering the Combine, our friends at DraftExpress had Bentil projected as the 52nd overall pick in their most recent mock draft. However, now it’s possible that he’ll climb into the first round (especially if he continues to play that well in team workouts). Scouts described Bentil as “one of the winners of the NBA Combine” and predicted that he’d now go between picks 25-35, according to NBADraft.net.
In addition to his strong play, Bentil’s measurements were right where they needed to be, as his height was 6’8.25 in shoes and his wingspan was 7’1.5 (not to mention his 9.5-inch hands, which were the largest of any player at the Combine).
At the Combine, Bentil met with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Orlando Magic, Golden State Warriors, Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets among others. And he has reportedly scheduled workouts with the Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Indiana Pacers and Nuggets (with more to come).
During his sophomore season at Providence, Bentil was the Big East’s leading scorer with 21.1 points per game. He and Kris Dunn, who is projected to be a high lottery pick this year, formed a strong one-two punch. Bentil became the highest-scoring sophomore in Providence’s history with 738 total points in the season. In addition to his scoring, he averaged 7.7 rebounds (fourth-best in the Big East), a block and a steal. Bentil was named the Big East’s Most Improved Player and earned All-Big East First Team honors.
Bentil was a pleasant surprise for Providence, as his points per game increased by 14.7 from his freshman year to his sophomore year. He embraced the increased role and became one of the Friars’ most important players.
“My confidence increased toward the end of my freshman year and then I was in the gym all summer working,” Bentil said. “My teammates kept giving me the ball and telling me, ‘Play your game.’ Coaches were telling me, ‘We’re going to have to come to you more and make you one of the go-to guys.’ I was cool with being a role player in my freshman year, but then I was excited as a sophomore because I knew I could contribute more.”
Statistically, Bentil stacks up very nicely alongside his fellow prospects in the 2016 NBA Draft. Among DraftExpress’ top 100 players in this class, Bentil ranked fourth in scoring (21.1 points) and 14th in Player Efficiency Rating (20.1). He averaged the most points per game of any power forward in this draft.
Bentil scored 20 or more points in 21 of 35 games this season, including:
- 42 points and 12 rebounds in a double-overtime loss against Marquette.
- 31 points and 13 rebounds in an overtime win against Villanova.
- 32 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks in a win against UMass.
- 38 points, eight rebounds and two blocks in a win against Butler.
Bentil believes that many aspects of his game will translate well to the NBA, as he displayed at the Combine and hopes to continue showcasing in team workouts.
“I think some things that will help me in the NBA are how quick I am to the ball, that I run the floor, that I can shoot the ball well and that I can guard multiple positions,” Bentil said. “Last year, I was guarding everybody – five through one. This year, I wanted to do the same thing, but I had to guard a lot of big guys. But I think those are the things that will help me.”
God Shammgod, who played 20 seasons professionally and is currently on Providence’s coaching staff, trained Bentil throughout his collegiate career and also helped him prepare for the pre-draft process.
“Ben is a very hard worker and the best power forward in this draft. Period. And while he’s a great player, he’s an even better kid,” Shammgod said of Bentil last month. “People are going to be surprised at how good he is and how hard he works.”
If the Combine was any indication, Shammgod is right. Bentil largely credits Shammgod for the massive improvement he showed this season.
“First of all, he helped me a lot with my confidence,” Bentil said of Shammgod. “He made sure he instilled confidence in me to let me know what type of player I am and what I can do on the court. He’s been through it all basketball wise, playing in college and at the professional level. Some people may think he only works with guards, but that’s not true. Yes, he was a guard, but he has played with great big men and knows a lot. He’s taught me how to handle the ball, set my feet to shoot, improve my shot, come off screens, catch-and-shoot, finish at the rim and all sorts of stuff.”
Shammgod also had him studying film of various forwards. When asked which NBA players he models his game after, Bentil doesn’t hesitate.
“My favorite player of all-time is Kevin Garnett; I like his toughness, his approach to every game, his attitude, everything,” Bentil said. “I also like Paul Millsap and Draymond Green – the way that those guys play.”
It’s clear that Bentil can score the ball with relative ease (especially at the rim) and impact games in a variety of ways. His shot mechanics are great and his three-point shooting at the Combine is sure to impress some executives. He led Providence in three-pointers made last season with 52, but he shot just 32.9 percent from behind the arc (which he needs to improve).
Bentil had a monster sophomore season, but he must continue to develop his game. If he remains in the draft (and he should), it’ll be in his best interest to land on an NBA team that can put him on a good development plan and continue to bring him along (while not expecting too much right away). There’s no question that Bentil has the tools and upside to become a very good forward in the NBA, he just needs to find the right situation and maximize his potential.
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