Ja’Von Benson of Columbia has become the center of an in-state recruiting battle between South Carolina and the College of Charleston.
Benson, a 6-8, 220-pound senior at Ridge View High School, has taken official visits to both schools and has not scheduled any others. He hasn't completely closed the door on other colleges, but for now the Gamecocks and Cougars sit atop his list and he’s trying to figure out the best situation for his college future.
“I want to weigh my options and discuss it with my family a little more,” Benson said. “I don’t know. I like both schools. I don’t know what I’m going to do right now. Tough situation for me.
"It’s two great schools on me. I just hopefully will wake up one day and say this is where I want to go.”
Benson took his official visit to USC the weekend of the Alabama football game. He toured the campus and basketball facilities, and watched the Gamecocks do some work in the weight room. He also met with Frank Martin and other coaches, academic staff and the strength coach.
“I was able to see the bigger picture there,” Benson said. “It’s not all about basketball, it’s about getting a degree and being successful in the world. I love the players. I’m cool with Trae Hannibal. He kind of told me the ins and outs of going to that type of school. I think my official (visit) was one of the best weekends I’ve ever had. What else can you say.”
Benson said his conversation with Martin was not so much a recruiting pitch as it was encouragement to continue doing what he’s been doing since transferring to Ridge View from Westwood.
“He told me to keep working, Benson said. ”He said, 'I’m not going to promise you any anything, you’ve got to come in here and work.'”
USC assistant coach Bruce Shingler was in to check on Benson last week. Charleston also came by last week.
“They didn’t stay too long,” he said of the Charleston coaches. “The fact they drove from Charleston to here to see me, that means a lot.”
Benson said Martin and Charleston coach Earl Grant have not made in-home visits with him and they have not yet been scheduled.
Noah Collier (6-7) of Norristown, Penn., visited Clemson over the weekend. He also has taken an official visit to Pitt and is scheduled to visit Cal this weekend.
P.J. Hall (6-9) of Dorman took his official visit to Florida over the weekend. He has taken an official visit to Clemson and still has trips to Virginia Tech, Tennessee and Georgia Tech to take before making his decision.
Tennessee coach Rick Barnes made his in-home visit last week. He’s the third head coach to visit Hall and his family, following Mike White of Florida and Mike Young of Virginia Tech.
“With these home visits we’re trying to build a really good relationship, just make it like family and really good friends,” Hall said. “We were all just joking around, having dinner and messing around with each other.”
Hall said Virginia Tech and Florida were by his school last week. Clemson head coach Brad Brownell is expected for his in-home visit this week.
Point guard Tyler Rice (class of 2021) of Ridge View has offers from Penn State, Upstate and Elon at this point, but the interest from USC continues to grow. Gamecock assistant coach Bruce Shingler was in last week to see Rice.
Rice said Upstate, College of Charleston and Buffalo also were in last week to see him.
Bryce McGowens (6-5) of Wren made it to USC for an unofficial visit for the Alabama game.
“One of the nicest campuses I have been to. The atmosphere of the game was great and I’m looking forward to going there again.”
McGowens has offers from USC, Clemson, Providence, LSU, Nebraska, Penn State, Wake Forest, Florida, Iowa State, Virginia Tech, Xavier, Pitt and others. This past Saturday he was at Ole Miss. He also has visited Georgia, Wake Forest and Clemson in the last few months.
John Butler Jr. (7-0) of Christ Church is emerging as a national prospect in the 2021 class. Clemson was one of his early offers and the Tigers were in to see him this month. USC has not yet offered but that process was set in motion when Butler and his dad, who also is the coach at Christ Church and the former coach at Eau Claire in Columbia, met earlier this month with Martin.
“He just came down and talked to him a little bit,” John Butler Sr. said. “He wanted to get to know one another a little bit. Just an interest kind of deal.”
Butler’s offers also include Florida, Saint Louis, Virginia Tech, Tennessee, Baylor and DePaul. Arkansas also is showing interest.
Wide receiver Rico Powers, a native of Savannah who attends Hapeville Charter outside of Atlanta, announced a commitment to USC last week, giving the Gamecocks three receivers in their 2020 class.
Linebacker Desmond Tisdol of Rochelle, Ga., has been a frequent visitor to Columbia and he returned for an unofficial visit to see the Gamecocks play Alabama.
That was his fourth visit of the year to USC and his second exposure to the game atmosphere inside Williams-Brice Stadium. He also was in for the spring game.
“Pretty much the same as last time, but the crowd was loud, it was a big crowd,” Tisdol said. “A lot of young players playing at an early time. The coaches just let them go out and play and do what they do."
Tisdol said USC, Georgia Tech and Auburn are at the top of his list right now, and he also mentioned his continued interest in Florida State and Nebraska. He said he might return to Florida State for the N.C. State game. And he said there’s a chance he’ll be back at USC for another game this season.
Cornerback Kamarro Edmonds of Havelock, N.C., has been a regular visitor to USC since his sophomore year. He was back for another visit for the Alabama game. The Gamecocks are one of his favorites at this early stage of his recruiting. This visit gave him a chance to talk more with the coaches and also get a look at the young Gamecock secondary in action.
“I feel like it was a great experience, a great atmosphere at the game, the crowd was going wild,” Edmonds said. “I got to chill with the coaches a little bit before the game and see a couple of the players."
Edmonds said USC, North Carolina and N.C. State are the schools showing the strongest interest at this point. Clemson has invited him for games and sent him mail. Virginia Tech and Tennessee also have offered.