Stay or Go: Why Providence’s Ben Bentil Should Bolt for the NBA Draft

The Providence Friars had one of the best guards and players in the nation this year, Kris Dunn.  Dunn was the team’s main shot creator and also a great distributor for the team.  He could have left last year, but elected to return for his junior season.  With 16.4 points per game, 5.3 rebound per game, and 6.2 assists per game there is no doubt that Dunn will be a top 10 pick in this summer’s NBA Draft.

Ben Bentil helped the Friars reach the 2016 NCAA Tournament before falling to North Carolina. (Photo courtesy of SI.com)

One of his teammates, has a decision to make.  Ben Bentil is a six foot nine inch sophomore forward with diverse abilities.  He played a major role in the Friars’ success this year, as they accumulated a 24-11 record.  The majority of their losses came against a grueling Big East schedule, full of elite opponents.

Despite the competition, Bentil racked up excellent statistics.  Only one year after averaging 6.4 points, Bentil jumped to a whopping 21.1 points per game.  He also increased his rebounding average from 4.9 to 7.6 per contest.  Bentil saw his role increase due to the departure of their leading scorer and fellow forward LaDontae Henton.  Bentil did more than just increase his scoring and rebounding averages.  He also showed a development in shot accuracy.  Bentil saw a three percent increase in overall field goal percentage, as well as a three point increase in three point percentage.  On top of that, the sophomore’s free throw average grew from 69% to 78%.  At his size, the ability to shoot makes him a threat.

Bentil is entered in most mock drafts as a later first round pick or an early second round selection.  While another year could increase his potential to become a higher pick, I do not see that as his best option.  After tripling his scoring average as well as zoning in on his accuracy, he can’t improve his draft stock anymore.  Bentil has developed several aspects of his game and has prototypical NBA size at his position.

Kris Dunn was a major part of Providence’s and Bentil’s success in 2016.  Providence basketball will look completely different without him. (Photo courtesy of SB Nation)

If that is not enough reason for Bentil to do more than just test the draft waters, then looking at the context of Providence basketball will assure him of his best choice.  Providence is losing one of the better players that it has had in recent history in Kris Dunn.  While this may mean more looks for Bentil, it takes away one of the main targets that opposing defenses had to scheme against.  This is different than other players’ situations because there is no clear cut next option with Providence.  Rodney Bullock is the next legitimate scoring option, but with no real threat to space the floor like Dunn created, this could cause major traffic in the lane and allow defenses to easily tackle both options.

The wild card here is incoming recruit Maliek White.  White could be able to create for his teammates and could become a legitimate option on offense for the Friars. However, as has been seen in years past, no matter how much a recruit is touted, until they are battle tested at the college level it is impossible to judge the legitimacy of the scouting report that they have been given.  For Bentil, putting his faith in Kris Dunn is completely different than putting his faith in an unknown commodity.  It is possible that another player could have a Bentil-like level of growth at the guard position, but the best decision for the forward must come with the known factors being considered.

Bentil appears to have reached the height of his development at the college level.  There are very few reasons to stay for the following year, not even having mentioned yet the fact that this year’s draft class under-performed to a great extent.  The 2016-2017 class could provide many obstacles to Bentil for being drafted even where he is being predicted to go.  Unlike other players, there does not appear to be much higher for him to go. With nothing standing in his way of making a roster, he should hire an agent and keep his name in the draft after the NBA combine in May, if not before.

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