From Hoya to Tiger
Before the 2012-13 season started, Men’s Basketball Head Coach Pat Skerry emphasized that this season will be a lot different from last, partially because of a new roster.
“I’ve got more of my own guys,” he said.
One of those players, Jerrelle Benimon, has already made a name for himself on the team.
The junior forward from Warrenton, Va. was named the Colonial Athletic Association Co-Player of the Week following the team’s impressive run in the 2012 Comfort Suites Invitational Nov. 16-19.
Benimon averaged 16.3 points and 12.3 rebounds during the first three games of the tournament and helped carry the Tigers to a 3-1-tournament record and a 3-2 overall season record.
On the season, Benimon is averaging 16.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. He has two “double-doubles” through five games.
“He brings talent and toughness,” Skerry said. “He’s versatile. He can score inside and out. What I’ve been really proud of is how well he’s defended. He’s a big, strong, physical, tough kid.”
Basketball was not always Benimon’s primary sport. In fact, he did not become immensely involved in basketball until he was a teenager.
“I didn’t really get too serious about basketball until I was a freshman in high school,” he said. “I mostly played football but then decided to stop. I began to put all my time and efforts in being good at basketball and it worked out.”
Before coming to Towson, Benimon began his collegiate career at Georgetown.
From his freshman to his sophomore year, Benimon saw his minutes decrease and teammates leave. He decided then that it was time for a change.
“I just wasn’t having fun anymore. I think it was me not liking the offense a lot,” he said. “Another reason is the two players in my class and my best friends also weren’t too happy and talked about leaving which also inspired me to leave.
Nothing toward Georgetown and the coaches, but I was just ready to leave and do something else.”
When news broke that Benimon was leaving Georgetown, Skerry knew that he had to pursue him.
“We jumped on him right away and recruited him very aggressively,” Skerry said.
At the same time that Towson was recruiting Benimon, CAA-rival Old Dominion was also courting him.
It was the second time they tried to bring in the local prospect.
Despite a familiarity with the ODU coaching staff, Benimon decided to become a Tiger, he said in part because of the relationship he built with Skerry and the rest of the coaching staff.
Since joining Towson, he said he has fit right in.
“I enjoy it here a lot, it is more of my style than Georgetown, because Georgetown is a much smaller school compared to Towson,” he said. “You have the opportunity to see different people everyday.”
Benimon’s personality off the court is something that Skerry said he believes has helped him get accustomed to Towson so quickly.
“Jerrelle’s a pretty carefree and easygoing guy,” Skerry said.
For many players, offense is key to winning games. But Benimon said he knows otherwise, in large part due to his experience playing in the Big East.
“The Big East is an extremely physical league,” Benimon said. “Most teams pride themselves on defending and rebounding the basketball. I have learned defense is the key to winning college basketball games. It isn’t only scoring.”
Skerry also recognizes the influence that the Big East has had on Benimon.
“His experience playing on some of the biggest stages has helped him and he was also playing against good players at a great program like Georgetown,” Skerry said.
Benimon said his versatility is what makes him valuable to this team.
“I believe my role on the team changes game to game,” Benimon said. “Some games I may have to defend the other teams’ best player. Other games I may have to be a playmaker and get my teammates involved in the game. Other games I may
have to do an abundance of scoring, but I will always rebound the ball.”
Although the team has had early-season success, Benimon believes the team is still getting to know each other and getting comfortable on the court together.
Once that happens, he sees a bright future.
“Once everything comes together for us we will be a great team and hopefully make some noise in the CAA,” he said.