Should Providence's Ben Bentil stay in the NBA draft or return for his senior season with the Friars?
Thanks to an NCAA rule change this season, underclassmen are allowed to declare early for the NBA draft, go through the evaluation process and then choose to go pro or return to school (if they haven’t signed with an agent). From now until May 25, which is decision day, SI will periodically weigh in on the most interesting decisions left to be made.
Season review: Bentil finished his sophomore season as the Big East’s leading scorer (21.1 points per game) and fourth-best rebounder (7.7 rebounds). He earned Big East Most Improved Player honors and All-Big East First Team honors in helping the Friars reach the second round of the NCAA tournament.
The Case for College: Bentil boasts attractive inside-out abilities, but his game has its flaws. He hit more three-pointers (52) than any Friar, but he ended the season shooting just 32.9% from deep. That clip is not good enough to justify 4.5 three-point attempts per game. Bentil also recorded 67 turnovers to just 40 assists (0.6 ratio). Given the sophomore’s size (6’9’’, 235 pounds) positions him between a small forward and a power forward in the NBA, it might behoove Bentil to return to Providence and improve his outside shooting and playmaking.
It’s also worth noting Bentil has played just two college seasons. It’s hardly unusual for underclassmen to test the NBA waters in the one-and-done era, but those prospects are often raw talents. Bentil essentially has just one NBA-caliber season under his belt. The jury remains out regarding his viability as a top-tier draft pick, particularly if he teeters on the edge as an undersized power forward. A shorter version of Bentil might concern teams about his long-term future banging bodies on an NBA frontline.
The Case for the NBA: If Bentil returns to school, he runs the risk of falling short of what was a tremendous sophomore campaign. His 738 total points were the most ever by a Providence sophomore, and he dropped a career-high 42 in a loss at Marquette on Feb. 10. That performance marked the highest single-game scoring total by a second-year player in Friars history. In all, Bentil scored 20 points or more in 21 of Providence’s 35 games and surpassed the 30-point plateau four times. The versatile forward is a stellar finisher at the rim and recorded the highest Offensive Rating (112.3) on the team, besting even All-American guard Kris Dunn (103.6), according to Kenpom.com.
Speaking of Dunn, Bentil would have to pick up the slack for his counterpart if he returned to Providence. That’s because the junior guard also declared for the NBA draft after he joined Georgetown's Patrick Ewing (1985) as the only two players in Big East history to earn both Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year twice. Bentil is a scoring and rebounding force, but Dunn accounted for 16.4 points and also dished out 6.2 assists per game. The Friars might expect Bentil to shoulder much of that production himself.
Mock Draft rankings: SI (first round only): Unranked; DraftExpress: No. 52
Final verdict: Bentil’s draft stock may never be higher than it is right now, so he should jump to the NBA.