Family is an important thing to Michael Benkert. He’s the oldest brother to six younger siblings, so his house is never quiet, but he likes it that way.
This family love is strong enough that it will likely have an impact on where the 6-foot-4, 175-pound class of 2015 forward will choose to go to college.
“For college, I probably want to stay in the Midwest, so I can stay close to home,” Benkert said. “They (my family) normally come to games when it’s closer.”
His hopes for being recruited by schools near his Greenwood home have already come to fruition. Benkert mentioned Butler, Purdue and Michigan have all been following him closely, along with drawing some interest from Evansville. While he has no official offers, growing up near Purdue and Butler has allowed him to take visits to the campuses.
He said he had seen multiple games on Purdue’s campus and has developed a strong relationship with Boilermaker associate head coach Jack Owens, and had similar thoughts about the Bulldogs.
“Butler, I like the style of play they have,” Benkert said. “Their defense, that’s what they really key in on, and I just like that. I’ve been to some of their games, too, and I really like how they play and I like Brad Stevens.”
Benkert has not yet taken any official visits from the schools. For visits, he plans to begin thinking about those over the summer, and while thinking that over he hopes to receive a few offers from the schools as well.
For now, though, he is focused on improving his own game. He has developed a versatile style, with the ability to play the guard or both forward positions, he said.
He counts that and his outside shooting as his top strengths.
“Definitely need to work on my ball handling,” Benkert said. “I just need for my ball handling to begin to progress and just be more confident with it while bringing it up the court and making decisions.”
While his on-court decision-making is something he is trying to improve, Benkert does get plenty of practice with making tough choices at home while helping to look after his younger brothers and sisters.
Despite his siblings following his lead, though, there is a key difference between Michael and the younger Benkerts.
“I’m the only one that plays a sport,” he said. “I did (try to get them involved) but they just never excelled at it. They liked it, but they just play as a recreational type thing.”
Still, even without a younger sibling to play against, it has helped him develop other strong attributes, like an ability to not be rattled and leadership.
“Our house is never quiet, but I like being the oldest,” he said. “I have to be the role model, and I am.”