Jason Bennett has evolved. The once shy and clumsy 7-foot-3 center from Arlington Country Day in Jacksonville, Fla., has come out of his shell both socially and on the court and he's seeing the benefits of his improvement. The four-star prospect has five schools he's looking at and hopes to hit the road after his busy July.
Bennett's progression from a big kid that didn't look like he enjoyed the game to a top-flight college prospect has been amazing to watch. Sure, he still has his not so great moments. In fact, his play at the Peach Jam was far from inspiring but the passion was there. He was sticking to what he knows; rebounding and blocking shots.
Coaches were watching him, too. Bennett said he's narrowed out his list to a top five of Cincinnati, North Carolina, Miami, Georgia and Clemson.
The Bearcats head coach Bob Huggins made an appearance on the sidelines. Miami head coach Frank Haith was a fixture at every Tropics game. Georgia and Clemson had assistants on close watch. Carolina head coach Roy Williams saw Bennett go at it with Spencer Hawes, one of the top targets for the Heels.
Even with a number of lurking eyes, Bennett said he's not worried about what people are saying about his game or his recruitment.
"I just try to play my game and let everyone else do the talking," Bennett said.
With a busy month ahead of him and with a solid list of five schools, Bennett said he's ready to see what the schools recruiting him have to offer. He recently tripped to Cincinnati.
"I want to take as many unofficial visits as I can so I can save up my officials," Bennett said.
Bennett said he might be making an unofficial visit to Clemson after the busy July period. The Tigers are a newer school in his list. So is North Carolina and Georgia. What gives?
"With North Carolina, I just like that school. I mean, they are the National Champions," Bennett said. "Georgia has my man Mike Mercer. That's my guy. I'd like to play with him. Plus they made an in-school visit and showed me some love."
Bennett has even turned down some major programs.
"Kentucky just offered me a week ago but I don't think I'm going to look at them," Bennett said. "I think the other schools just fit me the best."
Bennett and the rest of the Miami Tropics will be in Las Vegas for the Main Event and the Las Vegas Summer Classic. Bennett is the No. 34 ranked player in the country by Rivals.com and the No. 4 rated center in the class of 2006.