Purdue Fort Wayne post Cameron Benford working his way into a bright future

Purdue Fort Wayne center Cameron Benford, left, works through a zig-zag drill against teammate Xzavier Taylor last season at the Gates Sports Center. (By Tom Davis of News-Sentinel.com)
Purdue Fort Wayne sophomore center Cameron Benford
Purdue University Fort Wayne men's basketball coach Jon Coffman goes through his practice schedule with his players during a session last season. (By Tom Davis of News-Sentinel.com)
Purdue Fort Wayne post players, Matt Holba (far left) and Cameron Benford (second from left) cheer on the Mastodons during a game last season against South Dakota at the Coliseum. (By Tom Davis of News-Sentinel.com)

The Purdue Fort Wayne men’s basketball program is immersed in a 10-day study abroad opportunity in Italy in which the Mastodon coaches and student-athletes will discover a great deal of information regarding historic sites and locales. However, what won’t be a discovery to the Purdue Fort Wayne coaches will be the potential of sophomore center Cameron Benford.

“He is very mobile,” veteran Purdue Fort Wayne coach Jon Coffman told News-Sentinel.com recently. “He’s a true five-man. He’s a post guy.”

That will be demonstrated Wednesday evening (afternoon in Fort Wayne) when the Mastodons participate in the first of four games on the trip.

Benford was utilized sparingly as a true freshman last season, as Coffman had fifth-year center Xzavier Taylor and redshirt freshman Dylan Carl at his disposal. However, even in limited opportunities, Benford was effective at times.

The 6-foot-8, 240-pound Seattle native played in 25 games and grabbed at least five rebounds in four of those, including six in just eight minutes of action at Oral Roberts.

“The things that are going to make him good over his career are his mobility and his energy level,” Coffman said.

Benford didn’t waste time following last season in wanting to improve and “had a great spring” according to Coffman.

“He is really making some growth with his footwork,” Coffman said. “I’m really excited about Cameron. He is a sponge of knowledge. He listens. He is a great listener.

“He has a huge heart and if you tell him to do something he’s going to do his (best) to do it.”

Benford will battle with Carl and junior college transfer Ramion Burt Jr. for playing time at the five spot this coming season, while incoming freshman Josh Inkumsah and Lehigh University transfer Matt Holba can play some at that position but are more suited for the four spot.

“Numbers-wise,” Coffman said, “we’ve got a number of guys that can play that spot. I like the group and within this group, there is more versatility in the group. We have more guys that can be four-fives, who can defend on the perimeter in our league, but also defend the post in our league.”

That will be invaluable moving forward because Coffman said last season his team struggled to guard teams with “mobile posts.”

“We dropped five games to teams that had mobile posts,” Coffman explained, “pick-and-pop stretch posts. Those are hard to guard, so I had a different mindset (in recruiting) in terms of I wanted to have one or two versatile guys coming in.”

Just how much Benford builds on his freshman season this year (or on this trip) remains to be seen, but Coffman is confident that he’ll be a significant contributor for the Mastodons at some point.

“Over his career,” Coffman said, “he’s going to be a really, really good player.”

For more on college basketball, follow Tom Davis on Twitter at Tom101010 and on Facebook at Thomas Davis.

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