Phil Kornblut

Hometown basketball recruit has Gamecocks and Cougars on his mind

Ja’Von Benson of Ridge View High has become the center of an in-state recruiting battle between South Carolina and the College of Charleston.

Benson (6-8) has taken official visits to each and has not scheduled any others. The senior has not completely closed the door on other schools, but for now the Gamecocks and Cougars sit atop his list. He’s trying to figure out the best situation for his college future. When he will make a decision is up in the air.

“I want to weigh my options and discuss it with my family a little more,” Benson said. “I don’t know. I like both schools. I don’t know what I’m going to do right now. Tough situation for me. It’s two great schools on me. I just hopefully will wake up one day and say, ‘This is where I want to go.’”

Last weekend Benson made his official visit to USC. He was able to take in the Alabama football game, tour the campus and basketball facilities, and watch the Gamecocks do some work in the weight room. He also met with Frank Martin and other coaches, academic people and the strength coach.

“I was able to see the bigger picture there,” Benson said. “It’s not all about basketball; it’s about getting a degree and being successful in the world. I love the players. I’m cool with Trae Hannibal. He kind of told me the ins and outs of going to that type of school. I think my official was one of the best weekends I’ve ever had.”

Benson said his conversation with Martin was not so much a recruiting pitch as it was encouragement to continue doing what he’s been doing since transferring to Ridge View from Westwood.

“He told me to keep working,” Benson said. ”He said, ‘I’m not going to promise you any anything. You’ve got to come in here and work.’”

USC assistant coach Bruce Shingler was in to check on Benson on Tuesday. The Cougars stopped by Thursday to say hello.

“They didn’t stay too long,” he said. “The fact they drove from Charleston to here to see me, that means a lot.”

Benson said Martin and Charleston coach Earl Grant have yet had their in-home visits with him and they have not yet been scheduled.