The departure of sophomore guard Brett Benning from the USI men’s basketball team isn’t a surprise when you think about it. He never really fit in.
The official word from USI is he was deeply homesick, that he often traveled the seven hours back and forth between Evansville and his home near Rockford, Illinois. I’m not going to discount that, but I think there was more to his decision to leave.
At 6-5, he should have been a deadly shooting guard who should have been all but impossible to guard around the 3-point arc. But he never was. My opinion: he didn’t shoot the ball correctly. His shot came from somewhere around his shoulders and his chin, never above his forehead like a classic jump shot. He also didn’t seem to be very good at driving to the hoop.
Perhaps he was on the road to dramatic improvement, but I didn’t see it. I also think he saw who had been added the roster in the off-season and figured out that his playing time — he averaged 10.2 minutes per game last season (and just 2.7 points and a mere .316 from 3-point range) — was about to be drastically reduced. I’ve heard that the unexpected but welcome abilities exhibited by 6-5 freshman Jacob Norman all but made Benning unnecessary, but that’s just a guess.
We all hope that Benning finds a basketball program where his abilities will take root and he becomes the player he and everyone else expected him to be at USI. Sometimes the school you choose is the wrong school. At least Brett had the courage to realize that. He’ll be a better person for it, I think.