Sometimes in the D-League all you want is a chance to prove yourself against the best. Keith Benson of the Sioux Falls Skyforce got that opportunity with the Miami Heat during preseason.

After leading the ‘Force to a record-setting season and landing on the Minnesota Timberwolves Summer League team, Miami extended an invitation to the 6-11 center to attend training camp for the second straight year. Benson had to compete against Hassan Whiteside who has multiple double-doubles already this season and a top defensive center.

“He’s a real good shot blocker. I felt like if you can get your shot off against him, then you can pretty much get it off against anybody. Playing against somebody who’s that good on defense and trying to stop him on offense helps a lot.”

There were times during the preseason where the Heat employed a “Sioux Falls South” lineup featuring players likely headed to the D-League and members of last year’s team. Benson said the familiarity was a benefit.

“I related to them more because we spent so much time together. We had chemistry when they put us all on the court together. We know what each other does well and we put some good spurts together.”

Upon returning to Sioux Falls, Benson senses the need to grow into a more prominent role on this year’s team.

“I think I can have a big impact and be a leader. Last year I was more of a lead by example person and let my play speak for me. I’ll try to be a more vocal leader this year.”

That will start on the defensive end as Benson sees early indications of the guys in camp buying into getting stops. Considering that the Oakland (MI) product is ranked number 5 in Skyforce history in blocked shots with 107 starting the season, he will be more than ready to anchor a title defense in Sioux Falls.

See Also: