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Sports · August 15, 2014

Benimon becomes first county native to join NBA

Photo/Jeff Via, Towson Athletics
Jerrelle Benimon's stellar junior and senior seasons at Towson University helped garner interest from NBA teams. The Warrenton native helped the Tigers to the biggest turnaround in college basketball history in the 2012-13 season.
Photo/Gary Brittain
Benimon grabs his first of two consecutive Colonial Athletic Association MVP awards in 2013. He led the nation in games with double-digit points and rebounds his junior season.
Photo/Lawrence Emerson
Falcons Coach Wayne Brizzi says the 6-foot-8 power forward still plays at Fauquier's gym "two or three days" a week in the offseason.
It’s an accomplishment. I’ve got a lot of years to see what happens. I hope to play as long as I can.
— Jerrelle Benimon
Jerrelle Benimon
Age: 23

Height: 6'8

Weight: 245 pounds

Position: Power forward

Accolades: Two-time Colonial Athletic player of the year (2012-13, 2013-14); 2012-13 honorable mention AP All-American; 2009 Washington Post All-Met selection; 2009 First-team all-region; Two-time Cedar Run District player of the year (2007-08, 2008-09).

Hometown: Warrenton

Education: Bachelor's degree in communication studies, Towson University, 2014; Fauquier High School, 2009

Family: Father, Franklin; mother, Linda; brothers, Kelvin and Jamel.
Jerrelle Benimon became the first Fauquier County native to sign a contract in the National Basketball Association.

The Towson University graduate inked a two-year deal with the Denver Nuggets around 3:30 p.m. Friday.

His contract will be partially guaranteed. Benimon’s training camp performance will likely dictate whether or not he makes the 15-person roster.

“Everything I’ve done so far, I’ve done pretty well,” Benimon said. “So, I’m pretty confident. I’ve rebounded pretty well and I think I showed my versatility.”

Benimon, who graduated from Fauquier High School in 2009, started his college basketball career at Georgetown University.

He averaged 21 points, 17 rebounds and seven assists as a senior for the Falcons.

“I don’t know if you can look at someone and say, ‘This guy’s going to play professional basketball,’” Fauquier Coach Wayne Brizzi said. “That’s a minute percent right there. It’s his ability to learn so well, that’s been the biggest thing to me.”

Benimon transferred to Towson, near Baltimore, in 2011. He helped the Tigers achieve the biggest turnaround in NCAA basketball history in his first year of eligibility.

They went 1-31 the year he sat out because of NCAA transfer rules. In 2013, Towson finished 18-13.

The 6-foot-8 power forward won Colonial Athletic Association player of the year honors in 2013 and 2014.

Last season, Benimon averaged 18.7 points, 11.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists. The gaudy numbers didn’t result in an NBA draft selection.

He joined two summer leagues to persuade franchises he could play at the next level.

In Orlando, Benimon played for the Miami Heat. After the six-day session ended, he flew to Las Vegas and joined the Nuggets.

Summer league teams consist of undrafted players, rookies and NBA developmental league participants.

The 23-year-old finished his three-game schedule with 11.3 rebounds per game, second-highest in the league.

“It’s exciting,” Brizzi said. “I’m happy for Jerrelle. My gosh, he deserves it. We’ve always had hard workers here and he just had that work ethic too.”

Denver finished 36-56 last season. The Nuggets, one of several teams interested in the 245 pounder, hired Brian Shaw as coach after the disappointing finish.

Shaw won three consecutive NBA titles as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers from 2000 to 2002. He also earned back-to-back championships as an assistant coach for the franchise in 2009 and 2010.

“I know I can show my versatility playing for Denver,” Benimon said. “(Shaw) is cool and it’s a cool place.”

Brizzi said Benimon spends “two or three days a week” in Fauquier’s gym during offseason. The Warrenton native loves home. He’s cherished the opportunity to represent his county.

“It’s an accomplishment. I’ve got a lot of years to see what happens. I hope to play as long as I can,” he said.

>> Video: Benimon speaks at his pre-draft workout in Denver:

Video/Denver Nuggets

>> Please, send sports news items and/or photos to Sports Editor Mark Trible: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).
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