1-On-1 w/ Jalen Benjamin [The Decision]
It feels like it was just yesterday! The place was Ligon Middle School (Raleigh, NC), the gym was packed, and the crowd was electric; the opponent Martin Middle School. You would’ve thought these two teams were playing for a championship the way the atmosphere was. However, it turns out that while Ligon had an outstanding team (with 2 tough guards) everyone wanted to see the match-up with Jalen Benjamin and if it was worth all the hype. It was one of the best middle school games I’ve ever attended as it went into double overtime, Ligon coming away with the victory, but Jalen Benjamin solidifying that he was a certified hooper.
Fast-forward to the present, Benjamin has reeked havoc all over the country. While often overlooked because of his size (currently standing at 5’11), he was definitely one of the top guards in the state of North Carolina for the c/o 2019 – even though rankings did not reflect this. Won the 16U Adidas Gauntlet with Stackhouse Elite; helped his team get to the state championship, all before transferring to finish out his last high school season at Meadow Creek High School in Norcross, GA. As his final season approaches, Benjamin had one more major decision to make – WHAT COLLEGE WILL HE GO TO!?
Benjamin made it official that he will be verbally committing to the University of Alabama Birmingham. RAM Prospects had an opportunity to sit with him and discuss what went into his decision to become Blazer…
RAM Prospects: So we going to get right to it… There’s been so many rumors and speculations but no one has heard it from “the horse’s mouth” Why’d you transfer?
Jalen Benjamin: One of the main reasons for me transferring is I needed a change for myself. I felt like moving to Georgia has put me on a stage to where it will fit me more towards college. The number of people, the city, and the atmosphere.
RAM: Now that we’ve got that out the way, tell us how Georgia is treating you so far?
JB: Man Georgia is treating me well so far! I love it, I mean I already have friends here like Jamir Chaplin, Damian Dunn, and Kedrick Greene. We have been grinding every day for countless hours… We are determined this year to beat anyone that’s in our way.
RAM: What’s the best thing about being at Meadow Creek?
JB: The best thing about Meadowcreek is just the culture change. However, I really got to stay in my books and hoops – that’s always the focus and the goal.
RAM: What’s the worst thing about being at Meadow Creek?
JB: The worst thing I would say was having to start over… Being the new guy on campus again. It’s different going into my senior year getting to know a whole new group of people.
RAM: Okay, we’re going to get to the real juicy stuff… The University of Alabama Birmingham, you just verbally committed – BIG CONGRATS on that… Tell us why you choose them?
JB: Yes sir! This was a tough decision man… I really choose them because when I had first taken my visit there, they made it seem like I have been a part of their program forever. Also, they made everything feel like family oriented. They did everything together which was really impactful in me making my decision. But the last reason I picked UAB was that my relationship with Coach Eshan (head coach) was very tight he and told me straight up he believed in me and thinks I could make an impact in the school. I wanted to be different in my process, go to a school start your own legacy, and that is what I’m going to do at UAB.
RAM: What did you think of the school’s atmosphere when you went on your official visit?
JB: I liked it a lot! The team reminded me a whole lot of my AAU team (Stackhouse Elite)… It’s like they know how to joke and everyone’s laughing, but when it came down to working out and practicing, they knew it was time to get serious.
RAM: What are some of the expectations they have for you?
JB: Some expectations they have is for me to come in be a vocal leader… They want me to step in and act like I’ve been there since day one and guide the team. They also want me to bring my winning mentality. I have to create things and situations that the school hasn’t had in a while, like going to the tournament!
RAM: What expectations do you have for them?
JB: My expectations going in is for them to help me transform into the best player to come out of UAB history. Not only helping me get to the next level playing but also helping me become a man and strive for success in life.
RAM: Last but not least, what are you looking forward to the most when you get to UAB?
JB: I’m looking forward to making a bond with not only the coaches and the team but meeting new people in college. Experiencing moments you could never go back on in life. I feel the people you meet in college will be the people you ride with the most after college.
RAM: Facts! I want to wish you the best and nothing but success on your new journey!