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Eagles’ small guard set to make sizable impression

– It’s not too difficult for Drew Benedict to get overlooked and overshadowed at an event such as the Gym Rats Basketball Association National Championships. But that doesn’t mean the 5-foot-8 senior guard from Columbia City doesn’t also benefit from the recruiting exposure generated by a national event.

“Columbia City is not the biggest city on the map so that definitely helps and coming out here and going to Indy and Chicago to get exposure,” Benedict said Thursday at Spiece Fieldhouse after the first game of the event. “It helps a lot having (Columbia City and AAU teammate) Daniel (Woll) on the team because he always has guys watching him because he is 6-7. They might be there to look at you, but you might catch their eye.”

While not being closely watched by coaches from Division I programs who are in attendance, the stocky Benedict has gotten the attention of NAIA schools with his quick-trigger, sharp-shooting skills.

“It’s majorly different,” Columbia City coach Chris Benedict said of his son’s recruiting process. “He is behind the eight-ball a little bit with his size. Hopefully he can show he is a competitor and do things that help his team win.

“Obviously he can shoot it, but he has to continue being consistent with a lot of different things that can put him out there. All of those (college coaches) are seeing who are going here and who’s going there, and it is a trickle-down effect, and you have to stay with it.”

Exposure, though, is still exposure no matter if you are a blue-chip prospect or a solid player looking to continue playing basketball in college.

“This gives us an environment to play against really good people in a short amount of time,” said Chris Benedict, who also coaches Drew’s AAU team. “That’s where they are going to get most of their exposure. This is the venue of where you are going to get seen.”

Drew Benedict mentioned Grace and Huntington and some NAIA schools in Michigan among those who have shown some interest in him.

He said, though, he doesn’t let the pressure of finding a school get overwhelming.

“They are still checking me out because I am 5-foot-8,” Drew Benedict said of college coaches. “Right now I am just trying to get as much exposure as I can, and I want to enjoy my senior year.”