Benedictine College Preparatory School (Richmond, VA):
Classification: Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association (VISAA) Division I
2018-19 overall record: 14-22
Having been deemed one of Richmond, VA’s storied varsity programs for decades now, it shouldn’t take long for 804 residents to recognize the significance of Benedictine College Preparatory School’s history when discussing high school hoops. Personally, I remember being a junior in high school when the Cadets won the 2013 Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association (VISAA) Division I state title. It ended up being the most recent banner added to the rafters; joining such achievements landed in 2011, 2008, 2007, and 2003. In this present time, Benedictine still holds that yearly goal of making a run back to the state crown likewise to the 2013-14 season. A recurring struggle of closing out games that went down to the wire proved as a main barrier the team dealt with last season, along with having to deal with much youth on the roster. This 2019-20 group should ultimately still see plenty of young faces across the board but there’s been notable growth in the returners. Based off of viewings dating back from June to now, I’ve gained a strong feeling lately that the players are up to making something special happen this winter.
What We Know
- Noting Benedictine’s overall record from 2018-19 immediately indicates the lengthy game schedule they had. Competing in 36 games wouldn’t be easy for any team but the challenge typically emerges as even greater when a coaching staff has much underclassmen present, as I referred to earlier. I saw last year’s team a couple of times in a season that likely brought a mix of gratifying wins and frustrating losses. Regardless, one cannot ignore the fact that Benedictine gave a strong fight in each outing, at least in the times I covered them. I don’t see the grit going away in the least bit; especially now with greater motivation and knowledge of what to expect in most game scenarios.
- Only three seniors departed from the Cadets’ 2019 class and now up to eight returners can make up this 2019-20 core. Again, there’s only a couple of true older minds around with two 2020 players leading the pack, but I personally feel Benedictine’s strong feel for the game amongst their younger guys can help largely in different ways. One cannot deny talent and the underclassmen will only continue to become better if they maintain this current daily work ethic. I saw some fairly decent size out there on the floor during my Thursday evening visit and also learned that some potential football guys may try out to give the team additional power.
- Similar to a few other local programs, I’ve come across Benedictine quite a few times since the 2018-19 season concluded. When you have frequent offseason events to play in nowadays, it’s honestly expected for myself and other scouts to get an early look at what teams have to offer. This past summer, I watched the Cadets on a few different occasions in the annual ‘Steward School Summer League’ (Richmond, VA) and again most recently during the ongoing ‘Meadowbrook High School Fall League’ (Chesterfield, VA); another yearly occurrence that Benedictine and others partake in. For each showing, I felt the private school crew looked good in displaying a fast-break tempo, which mainly resulted from using team defense to generate turnovers. Obviously, these type of leagues can only prove so much, but I’d consider it as nonetheless indeed a strong start of optimism for what can lead into the future.
- The structure of Thursday’s workout proved to me why Benedictine has looked well pushing the ball in the open floor this preseason. They instantly started things off with conditioning/agility drills to ensure their guys won’t be sucking wind by the time that tryouts roll around next month. Leading into finishing drills through contact followed for the next portion of court time, which again hinted at why the team has played well lately in their scoring style. They drew MANY fouls in a Week 1 contest of the Meadowbrook Fall League against Highland Springs High School (Highland Springs, VA). That aggressive mentality could remain a reliable asset of theirs moving forward. Execution of offensive sets and full-court play took up the rest of Benedictine’s 75-minute workout.
Who to Watch
* Obviously, with weeks left until tryouts, the roster remains unofficial. Still, several guys stood out during my visit, whom all I feel can make notable contributions if they fill a roster spot.
Malcolm Bridges ’20 – Arguably the most speedy prospect on this list, Bridges has some boosters that make him one of the team’s toughest to contain in transition. The 6’0” guard’s motor never really sees a decrease and notably comes into play when he starts tiring out opponents from simply outworking them. He’s a prime example of a guy who can rack up points purely from running the floor and finishing baskets, as I don’t see too many who can keep up with him for a full 32 minutes. Bridges showed audiences throughout these offseason/preseason leagues that he definitely has a good scoring feel and get paint touches at any point. His quickness on both ends typically leads to many deflections and drawn fouls, where he completes free throws pretty well. As a veteran, he should very well be one of the initiators of Benedictine’s fast-break game; whenever they choose to play at that pace. When it comes to a personal foot race, however, I can assure that he has a higher chance of winning that challenge every time.
Lorenz Boykin ’20 – The other piece of Benedictine’s senior duo, I’ve deemed the 6’0” Boykin as one of the best all-around scorers returning to the mix. He can do it from all three levels with the ball in his hands and has showed progression in his defense over the course of this fall. Changing speeds is what helps the two-guard mainly in how he slices past others for crafty finishes at the rim. He’s not overly fast compared to Bridges but indeed contains a quick first step and burst that comes with smart hesitation moves. If he’s not finishing right at the rim, expect Boykin to also find himself at the charity stripe in a fashion likewise to his senior backcourt mate. He can make shots from different areas and seems to prefer pull-up jumpers from deep range often. Consistency in his shooting, decision-making in transition, and maintaining his focus through adversity will all need to show improvement in the guard’s play this year but I have a feeling he’s ready to handle a big role. He and Bridges should absolutely be on the radar of different NCAA coaches if they haven’t already heard of the two.
Whit Williams ’21 – Williams had one of the best evening performances on Thursday but initially stood out by displaying traits of a veteran leader. I liked how vocal he made an effort to be in making sure everyone, especially the underclassmen, knew how to execute certain drills. Once competitive play began, the 6’7” forward once again continued to demonstrate his game that can stretch out beyond the paint. He’s smooth with his shooting, particularly in the mid-range region, and knocked down a couple of one-legged fade-away jumpers. In the case of many players at that size, they hold an advantage of getting their shot off easily due to their height. Williams doesn’t have much weight on him so he acknowledges that other skills must happen for him to succeed versus just trying to pound his way inside for finishes. Off of the ball, he relocates constantly to get open and can also snag in rebounds. There’s good upside to the junior now that he has two years remaining.
Jaden Daughtry ’22 – The super sophomore had to get a hand injury examined and couldn’t make it to Thursday’s workout. Regardless of his absence, I, as well as many others, already know all about Daughtry’s special potential. I’ve probably seen him play more than any other 2022 player in Richmond…it’s hard not to come across the 6’5” wing/forward since he makes an effort to attend any and every basketball activity possible. That same passion for the game has helped Daughtry make a bigger name for himself over the summer and he has the chance to contribute in an exceptional manner for the Cadets’ varsity roster after competing for the JV team in 2018-19. He’s a man-child, tenacious on the glass, gets to the rim at will, and never stops competing. During the six-week Steward Summer League, the young prodigy stood out in each separate showing and sharpened up his ball skills. The more complete Daughtry becomes in that latter area, the scarier his ceiling becomes. You can likely find his name on various lists of rankings in Virginia’s 2022 class, as Norfolk State University and Old Dominion both pulled the trigger first for offers.
Wendall Tomlin ’22 – Another sophomore with on-court abilities that stretch past his age, Tomlin did things well last year as the only freshman on Bendictine’s varsity squad. Now, the 6’5” wing has me projecting him to emerge as one of the team’s top perimeter threats. He shoots it from three-point land as good as any other returner, displaying a smooth release that’s satisfying to watch. In addition, Tomlin uses a good IQ to cut open in the half-court, score off of stick-backs, and take advantage of mismatches over smaller defenders. Defense is another area where he should shine and possibly become the team’s most valuable ‘3&D’ guy. His lengthy arms and ability to move well laterally allows him to guard multiple positions; up to three or four. I’m sure the coaches will treasure that certain element of his game and it’s something he needs to keep taking pride in himself. That type of play can go a long way with his height; improvements of his ball-handling will make him more lethal. He also missed Thursday’s session (pneumonia).
Brandon Jenkins ’21 – A newcomer from James River High School (Midlothian, VA), I scouted Jenkins a couple of times this summer and became intrigued when I first learned of his move on Thursday after stepping into Benedictine’s gym. When noting the already solid amount of surrounding scorers, the 5’10” junior can give the team an important piece at that lead guard spot. During full-court runs, he had a really good performance of rebounding on his own to push the ball. Jenkins possesses a VERY tight handle and slick moves to make his way around the floor. Dishing out dimes comes with ease to the junior and he’s more than capable of scoring off of the dribble. I’d say Jenkins does best when attacking since he’s so quick and good with the ball…his shooting looks solid at times too. If he can translate that playmaking and on-ball defense into the season similarly to how he appeared on Thursday, it could give Benedictine a considerable boost. Jenkins took home Virginia High School League (VHSL) Region 6B second team honors at the conclusion of last season.
Where You Can Find Them
- Bullis Holiday Tournament, hosted by Bullis School (Potomac, MD); December 13 – 14, 2019
- Hosted Benedictine Capital City Classic Tournament; December 27 – 29, 2019
- Invitational in Cumberland, MD; vs. Springdale Preparatory School (January 17, 2019), vs. Bishop Walsh School (January 18, 2019)
A Word from the Head Honcho
“We’re still going to be young but more experienced. Most of these guys are back from last year and that experience factor should make a big difference. Two or three sophomores have the chance to earn spots in the lineup and we should play at a faster pace. I think we can be better athletically and bigger this year. Having size for INSIDE purposes will help us versus just having regular tall size. In all, I think we can be much better with so many returners. They were a little shell-shocked last year by playing so many games and against tough competition. Most of our losses came down to final possessions. So, if we can learn off of that and turn half of those losses into wins, you’re talking about things happening much differently.
– Head coach Mark Royster (2nd season)
As tough as VISAA Division I competition gets, year in and year out, Benedictine has the necessary collective mind frame and enough components to battle it out for a stronger get-back year quite soon. It’ll start with Boykin and Bridges as the oldest veterans, while returners Williams and Tomlin should also lead charge in knowing the team’s principles. With those guys and the remaining core of returners taking care of business, the rest should fall right in line. Daughtry can bring an imposing presence, make no doubt about it. There’s been much to appreciate about the way Benedictine’s gone about their offseason and preseason so, once they get everyone healthy, I’m sure they’ll start prepping even greater to make sure others fall in line.
Make sure you don’t wrongly step in the way of the Cadets…they have that ‘no nonsense’ vibe this year. Should we have expected anything less?