Last season, Ben Bentil averaged 6.4 points and 4.9 rebounds a game for a Providence team that was led by BIG EAST Co-Player of the Year Kris Dunn and conference scoring champion LaDontae Henton. This year, Bentil has already been named the BIG EAST Most Improved Player and now looks to add Player of the Year to his resume as well.
Around this time last season, I made the case that Henton should win the BIG EAST Player of the Year Award. I thought I had a good case as well and despite getting the piece retweeted by Henton himself I was not able to convince the voters. This year, I try with Bentil who has an even better case than his former teammate Henton did last year.
Here are three reasons why this year’s Big East scoring champion should also be the conference’s player of the year.
Speaking of scoring, we start with the fact that no one averaged more points per game in the Big East this season than Bentil. The Friar sophomore also ranks 19th in the nation in scoring at 21.2 points per game ahead of big names like Kentucky’s Jamal Murray, who is one of the top freshman in America and Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine who many believe could win the National Player of the Year Award.
Dunn is a great player for the Friars, but once again this season he needed someone to take the majority of the scoring load. Last season, it was Henton and now it is Bentil. The most impressive thing about Bentil’s game is that he can beat you in so many different ways. Bentil can post up and score, but can also makes three pointers and plays in the lane. When it matters most, Bentil has been clutch for Providence and carried the Friars at times when Dunn has been struggling or sick towards the end of the season.
Bentil has scored in double figures in all, but three of his games this season. In 32 games, the sophomore has scored at least 20 points in a game 19 times, at least 30 points in a game four times and had that career-high 42 point game in the overtime loss to Marquette. It is safe to say that Bentil is the top scorer in the conference this season.
This is probably the most underrated part of Bentil’s game because of the fact that he does not have much help in the frontcourt when it comes to battling for rebounds. Bentil averaged 7.8 rebounds during the regular season and does it with minimal size helping him on both ends of the floor. Bentil has had eight double-digit rebounding games and all of those were double-double games as well.
We will not do through all of the players who have struggled to help Bentil on the glass, but the next leading rebounder for the Friars is Rodney Bullock who is 6-foot-8 and then Dunn who is 6-foot-4. Bentil is the tallest player on the team at 6-foot-9 and the only other player at 6-foot-8 is the very raw freshman Quadree Smith who only plays is about five minutes per game. For Bentil to be in the top-5 in the Big East in rebounding when the players above him like Henry Ellenson, Angel Delgado and James Farr have so much more help around them, it is impressive and hard to overlook.
Let’s lead into the other top big men in the Big East that Bentil has had to deal with on a night-to-night basis. Again, Providence has a lack of depth in the frontcourt so Bentil has been relied on for not only rebounding against the best in the conference, but defending as well. Bentil averaged 1.1 blocks and just under a steal per game this season while holding players like Daniel Ochefu, Ellenson, Delgado, Farr, Jalen Reynolds and others in check during certain games.
Without Bentil, Providence would be lost defensively even with Dunn, the two-time conference defender of the year, out there. The Friars need his defense in the post just as much as they need him to score there on the other end. With so little, the Friars have gotten so much production in the frontcourt because of Bentil.
Between this season and last, Bentil has taken on so much more responsibility and done wonders for the Friars. He has Providence right back where they were last year in many ways even without Henton. The scoring production that he provides is second to none in the conference and one of the best in the nation. Add in the fact that he carries the frontcourt every night and at times has to carry the entire team when Dunn is in foul trouble or struggling. Bentil has been the most valuable player to his team and that is why he should win the BIG EAST Player of the Year Award in 2016.