Providence potential first-rounder Ben Bentil staying in 2016 NBA Draft

Providence forward Ben Bentil is off to the NBA for good.

Bentil has decided to keep his name in the NBA Draft, he announced in an Instagram post on Sunday.

The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 21.7 points and 7.7 rebounds this season, and had previously been testing his draft stock under the NCAA’s new rules that allow players until May 25 to return to school provided they do not sign with an agent.

Clearly, Bentil is comfortable with the feedback he has gotten from NBA teams. He attended the NBA Draft Combine earlier this month, and was considered to have helped himself at the event. Currently, his stock is seen as being anywhere from the late first to the middle of the second round — anywhere from around No. 22 to No. 50 overall.

Along with potential lottery pick Kris Dunn, Bentil led Providence to the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament this season before losing to North Carolina. Coming into the year, he wasn’t really on anyone’s radar in terms of the draft. However, it’s arguable that no player has improved as much as Bentil over the last season in all of college basketball. He went from averaging six points per game as a freshman to over 21 as a sophomore, one of the biggest leaps in the sport.

NBA teams see Bentil as a potential floor-spacing four-man with a somewhat diverse skill set for the modern professional game. Bentil was one of nine players in college basketball this season to make 50 3s, block 30 shots and grab 30 steals, which goes to show his overall lateral athleticism as well as his ability to shoot from distance. He’s turned into a good shot creator due to his quickness, shot-making ability, and post game.

The questions about his game at this stage are three-fold. First and foremost, he didn’t show much in the way of passing ability this season — only putting up an 8.0 assist rate for the season. The best perimeter-based 4-men in the NBA also have a playmaking aspect to their games, creating looks for teammates after attacking a closeout with an extra pass. Second, Bentil is a good post defender due to his lower body strength and is mobile on the perimeter, but he’s not explosive vertically and may struggle a bit in terms of protecting the rim, either from the strong or weak side. Finally, Bentil’s defensive rebounding this year wasn’t superb this year, and he’ll need to be able to provide a slightly better presence there in the NBA given his skill set.

Despite those weaknesses, the positives far outweigh the negatives with Bentil, which is why it seems likely he will get a guaranteed contract to play in the NBA next season — regardless of him going in the first or second round. However, his departure to the professional ranks leaves Providence with quite a few questions going into next season.

The Friars have made the NCAA Tournament in each of the last three seasons, but will likely struggle to do so in 2017. In Bentil and Dunn, Providence loses 50 percent of his scoring from a season ago — including its two clear driving forces. Without them in the fold, the offense will fall on the shoulders of players like Rodney Bullock, Jalen Lindsey, Kyron Cartwright, and Ryan Fazekas — three of whom shot 40 percent or under last season. They do bring in a few interesting freshmen as well as former Indiana transfer Emmitt Holt, but it’s going to be a longer road to the postseason this time around than last time.

There’s some upside there, but undoubtedly Bentil’s departure leaves them with a hole that the Friars likely did not expect to need to fill at the start of the season.

Ben Bentil had a breakout season at Providence, and will now be certainly in the NBA.


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