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Brett Benning Feature

Dakota scoring ace Brett Benning is featured in our Sports Connection spotlight.
DAKOTA-Brett Benning’s high school basketball career is winding down at Dakota, and the rest of the teams and coaches in the Northwest Upstate Illini Conference are grateful for that. Benning has been a big time scorer for the Indians and a big time headache for everyone else.

The NUIC has had tall players before, but few tall ones who have the all-around skills that Benning has.  Most guys 6-feet 5 at this level play underneath the basket.  Benning’s best when he’s on the permiter handling the ball like a guard, and draining jump shots.
       He averages 27 points per game and he probably accounts for 50 percent or more of Dakota’s points on a regular basis.

"It’s smart for me to have him to that because he can do that," says Dakota Coach Mike Bartelt. "We want him to try and score as much as possible. We try to get him a touch almost every possession."

Benning has topped 30 points on several occasions. His best outing came in the South Beloit Martin Luther King tournament last month. He set a Dakota record by scoring 45 points in a win over North Boone.

"Actually I started out pretty slow. I missed my first three shots. After that they just started falling. That was a great feeling. It was a great night," says Benning.

"When he gets hot like that he can put on a show. He’s a special player.

And he scores despite having defenses constantly collapsing on him.

"It’s frustrating, but when they try to stop me that opens up lanes for my teammates," says Benning. "It gets frustrating that there’s always a guy right in your shorts" says Benning.

 Even though he puts up big numbers it’s not like he’s putting up shots every chance he gets. Benning is always keeping an eye open for an open teammate.

"I know my team needs me to score, so I’m always looking to score and get my shot, but when my teammates are scoring too that’s when we’re a really good team," says Benning. "When they can score and they’re they’re making shots and we’re playing as a team."

As a junior Benning averaged 22 points per game and he made second team all State in Class 1A. He got better over the summer playing AAU ball maintaining his outside shooting touch while also improving the rest of his game.

"I’ve always been a shooter," says Benning. "My junior year I started getting more athletic and started going off the dribble a little more with my size I knew I needed to get in the paint, so I started working on my ball handling and quickness and woked on my post moves a lot.

"He’s penetrating a lot better than he did last year, says Bartelt. " Last year he relied too much on his jumper. Now he’s taking it to the hole."
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It was playing AAU ball that Benning also caught the eye of the coaches at Division II southern Indiana University landing him a scholarship.

"They need shooters," says Benning. "I had a breakout year in AAU, they want shooters. They spread the floor a lot. They noticed that first in me."

With his size and skills Benning could have excelled playing at a much bigger school than Dakota.  But he can only wonder how much success he would have had.

" In AAU you play guys that are going to Marquette and Illinois. I always took thought what it would be like if I went to a big school. But I made the right choice. I couldn’t leave my teammates.

Benning’s love for basketball started at an early age because his father Brian was Dakota’s long-time basketball coach.  That was until this season when Brian Benning stepped down as coach so he could enjoy his son’s senior season from the stands.

He wanted me to hear a different voice on the sidelines. He likes watching games from a different perspective. He enjoys sitting back and watching the games," says Benning.

Benning also credits his older brother Kyle, another former Dakota basketball standout, for helping him grow as a basketball player

I always strived to be better than him. I tried to emulate him and his hard work and push my game to the next level.
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