Jerrelle Benimon signs NBA contract
After playing limited minutes in the Orlando Summer League with the Miami Heat, former Towson forward Jerrelle Benimon fought back in the Las Vegas Summer League with the Denver Nuggets.
After finishing first among all players who appeared in at least three Las Vegas Summer League games in rebounds, Benimon signed a two-year partially guaranteed contract with the Nuggets.
Although Benimon had interest from several teams, including the Utah Jazz, according to the website RealGM, he had familiarity with the Nuggets. In three games in Las Vegas, Benimon averaged 27 minutes per game, 10.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists.
Benimon played out-of-position at center for Denver, but Towson head coach Pat Skerry, who coached Benimon for three seasons, said he can catch on as a hybrid forward, the position he played in college.
“He rebounds at a high NBA level,” Skerry said. “Usually rebounding will translate from level to level. He led the Summer League in rebounding, so that’s his calling card. He’s got pro football strength as well. He had to score the ball for us, but he can really impact the game without scoring.”
At center, Benimon played a lot with his back to the basket and held the Los Angeles Lakers’ Julius Randle (the No. 7 overall pick in this year’s draft) to just two points in three quarters in one game, before going for 12 in the fourth. Benimon had 17 points and 15 rebounds in that game.
The former Georgetown transfer struggled to shoot for the Heat, going 2-for-6 from the floor in Miami’s first game on July 5 against the Boston Celtics. After that, he didn’t play for more than nine minutes in a game.
After signing Benimon, the Nuggets’ roster grew to 16 players. During the season teams can carry 15 players, but during the offseason they can have up to 20, so he will have to compete for a spot on the roster.
Erick Green, a 23-year-old point guard from Virginia Tech, and third-year forward Quincy Miller both signed similar deals to Benimon’s. Denver also still has power forwards Kenneth Faried, J.J. Hickson and Darrell Arthur on the roster.
Skerry said he believes Benimon will make the roster.
“I watched almost of his games in Miami and I saw a game on tape. I’m not surprised that he’s been given the opportunity,” Skerry said. “I knew he’d make a team.
He’s obviously got talent. He’ll be able to play for a while in the league.”
In between Summer League stints, Benimon trained with Skerry and the rest of the team at Towson. Skerry said he tries to talk to his former player at least three times a week. However, when he does talk to Benimon, it’s not to give advice.
“I wouldn’t give him a lot of advice, he’s a pro,” he said. “The only thing I’ve ever told him is to do what he does here. He’s made himself in to the player that he is. You reap what you sow and he’ll benefit from that.”
In his senior year with the Tigers, when Benimon finished second in the country in rebounds, he averaged 18.7 points, 11.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists. He also made 52.9 percent of his shots, and made 31.8 percent of his three-pointers on 1.2 attempts per game.