Cal Poly

Cal Poly men's basketball gets verbal commitment from center

With big men “The Wills” heading into their senior seasons, the Cal Poly men’s basketball team could have lined up its next inside threat.

Class of 2012 Plainfield (Ill.) East High senior Brian Bennett told The Tribune that he gave the program a verbal commitment to attend Cal Poly during an unofficial visit to the campus this past weekend.

The 6-foot-9, 270-pound center said he has an official visit scheduled for next month and plans to sign a national letter of intent in November. Bennett’s commitment would be nonbinding until that time.

Will Donahue and Will Taylor, two former junior college transfers that Mustangs head coach Joe Callero brought in for his first season on campus in 2009, will anchor the team inside during the upcoming season, but with the offseason transfers of 6-10 freshmen Ben Eisenhardt and Ryan Pembleton, 6-6 swingman Chris Eversley would be the tallest returning player the following season.

“The plan at this point with what I’ve talked to Callero about is he really wants me to be able to come in and contribute and fight for a position,” said Bennett, who said he also had an offer from Division I Lafayette (Pa.) and was in the process of scheduling an official visit with incoming Western Athletic Conference member Denver. “With them losing both of their big men this year, he wants me to be able to step up and help make the team successful.”

Cal Poly also picked up a 2012 verbal from 6-7 Brush Prairie (Wash.) Hockinson forward Joshua Hall and could have three more scholarships to give in the class.

With the Mustangs on their international tour of Costa Rica, Callero could not be reached, but NCAA rules prohibit coaches from commenting publicly on specific recruits before they have signed a letter of intent.

Plainfield East coach Branden Adkins said Bennett averaged nine points and six rebounds as a junior last season, shooting 56 percent from the field and 71 percent from the free-throw line.

“He’s a dominant presence from the inside,” Adkins said. “When he can catch the ball from 15 feet in, he’s pretty deadly.

“He’s got really great feet. He can use both his right and left hand, and he’s a really good passer, sees the floor well.”

Bennett will belong to just the second graduating class at Plainfield East, a newly built school in the Chicago suburbs that competes in Class 4A, the highest level in Illinois.

Bennett, who stands to become the first Division I scholarship athlete from Plainfield East, helped the program reach the playoffs for the first time last season and said improving on that result is one of his goals for the upcoming season.

“I would definitely like to upgrade my rebounding,” Bennett said, “and I want to get our team to possibly go down to state. We have eight seniors returing, and we’re not so inexperienced as maybe last year or the year before.”