Who Got Next! (Vol. 1) – Jalen Benjamin
It’s always exciting to see high school basketball players that make the price of admission worth it. Especially in this day and age where kids are way more skilled and athletic than when I came up! What’s just as enjoyable (if not more) is discovering the next generation of talent. The middle school ballers who will be handed the torch and expected to pick up where the high school stars left off. These are the kids who got next!
This segment highlights Martin Middle School’s (Raleigh, NC), c/o 2019 Jalen Benjamin. At first glance what you’ll see is a 5’5 kid who barely breaks 100lbs, but do not let his frame deceive you. When that whistle blows and the ball goes up, you’ll quickly notice he’s all about business. His abilities have garnered him acknowledgement from USA Today after witnessing him hold his own at a high school combine.
It was a priority to see him play a number of times during this middle school season to make sure he wasn’t a fluke. Rest assured, this kid is the real deal. Benjamin has a proven smoothness to his game that strongly resembles Kyrie Irving’s playing style. While he’s not the tallest or the fastest, Benjamin uses several well honed skills that create a chasm between him and the competition. First, he’s a lights out shooter with great form, and if he gets going, good luck trying to contain him. Second, Benjamin is deceptively quick with both his hands and feet which makes him difficult to guard. Lastly, he has three intangible traits that a lot of well seasoned high school players don’t have: high IQ, good decision making ability and intuition.
To further clarify, at this stage most kids are just happy to be on the court. They are usually all over the place because they’re still learning the game. However, when Benjamin is on the floor, he’s under control, graceful, and even keeled. Benjamin shows a maturity beyond his years. He knows to read situations and either make the smart pass, drive to the basket or pull up – and he rarely takes ill-advised shots. Another immeasurable aspect of his game is his instinct, which allows him to be in the right place at the right time! Benjamin doesn’t rush or allow himself to be disrupted by the momentum of the game, which confirms that he trains at an elite level and takes it seriously. Now don’t misunderstand, from time to time he makes mistakes, proving he’s not perfect. However, Benjamin is mature enough to move on and keep his awareness instead of sulking and missing out on the opportunity that the next play may present.
By now I’m sure you’ve all come to the conclusion that Jalen Benjamin is one to watch and let me reassure you, he absolutely is! He has recently lead his school to victory in the 2014-2015 conference championship and earned the MVP honor to complete his middle school career. It’ll be fun to watch him grow and mature, and see what the future holds for him at the next level
Here’s a glimpse into Jalen Benjamin’s world below.