USC Recruiting

Frank Martin, Gamecocks offer local hoops standout

What Frank Martin thinks of in-state recruiting and USC’s efforts to keep players home

South Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin goes deep on recruiting the state and the Gamecocks' historical success of keeping prospects at home.
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South Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin goes deep on recruiting the state and the Gamecocks' historical success of keeping prospects at home.

Ja’Von Benson has been on South Carolina’s radar for a while.

On Thursday, the Gamecocks offered the Ridge View senior forward. It was Benson’s first Power Five offer. Some of Benson’s other offers include Ohio University, Indiana State, Mercer, UNC Wilmington, College of Charleston, Winthrop, Murray State, USC Upstate and SC State.

“I’m blessed and thankful to be in a situation where a coach believes in me,” Benson said.

Benson visited the school back in June. The USC coaching staff watched several of Benson’s AAU games this summer playing with Upward Stars and at the SC scholastic team camp and kept in regular contact with him.

“It’s hometown,” Benson said at SC Scholastic Camp in June shortly after the visit to USC. “It’s right around the corner for home and there’s a great coaching staff. I had a good visit, liked the dorms. Of course, they went to the Final Four a few years ago and are trying to get back.”

USC was eyeing another in-state big man, Dorman’s PJ Hall, but the Gamecocks didn’t make his final five schools. Guard Myles Tate, Hall’s teammate at Dorman, has the Gamecocks in his final list of schools.

The Gamecocks also are heavily recruiting Top-100 prospects Matt Cross and Earl Timberlake.

The Gamecocks have two scholarships so far for next year and possibly a third of AJ Lawson leaves for the NBA. But one of them is going for North Carolina transfer Seventh Woods, who must sit out this season because of transfer rules.

The 6-foot-8 Benson doesn’t have a favorite yet and hasn’t scheduled any official visits so far.

Ridge View coach Yerrick Stoneman likes Benson’s versatility in that he could play both inside and on the perimeter. Stoneman has the ability to be a difference maker for whatever college he chooses to go down the road.

“I’m excited for him,” Stoneman said in June at the Scholastic Camp. “We have built an outstanding relationship with each other. He is a great kid and I’m excited to see how things develop.

Benson, who began his career at Westwood, transferred to Ridge View and was part of the Blazers’ 2018 Class 4A state championship team. Playing alongside Georgetown signee Malcolm Wilson, Benson averaged 10 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.2 block shots this past season.

Benson scored 14 points and 10 rebounds in the state championship win over Wilson.

With Malcolm Wilson and several other starters gone from last year’s game, Benson will be counted for even more production and leadership skills.

“I got to be a leader and step up. I am going to be active, do the best I can, rebound, block shots,” Benson said.

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