Men's Hoops: Benson Signing Boosts Bears' Depleted Corps Of Big Men





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Lately, most of the news surrounding the Cal men's basketball team has centered around players leaving.

The Bears will do a little adding today, the first day of the spring signing period to National Letters of Intent.

Rod Benson, a 6-foot-9 post player fron Torrey Pines High School in San Diego will sign with Cal today, giving the Bears a boost up front.

With freshman big man Jamal Sampson's departure to the NBA and Gabriel Hughes' decision to transfer, the frontline depth needed to be addressed.

Benson is rated the No. 3 center on the West Coast by recruiting Web site The Insiders.com. He emerged as the season progressed, going from a player being recruited by mid majors, to someone getting looks from Pac-10 and Atlantic Coast Conference schools. He was an all-league performer as a senior

Benson joins Richard Midgley and David Paris of Modesto Christian High School as part of Braun's recruiting class.

Kennedy Winston, Cal's top recruit, probably won't be coming to Cal. Winston's mother has been ill and Braun said he will grant Winston a release from his letter of intent to stay closer to his mother.

Braun said he understands Winston "wanting to be at home with his mother," even though this isn't always a popular stance among college coaches.

"I know some coaches who say you don't let a player out of his letter (of intent)," Braun said.

The Bears also garnered a verbal committment from Marquise Kately, a 6-foot-5 swingman from Riordan High School in San Francisco, but he is expected to attend prep school and join the team for the 2003-04 campaign.

The spring recruiting season is also underway, with high school juniors now able to visit campuses.

Cal could receive some early verbal committments and if things go right, they'll come from players not too far from Berkeley.

Oakland Tech power forward Leon Powe was a regular at Haas Pavilion this past season and recently led his team to the state title game. The 6-foot-8, 230-pound Powe is considered one of the top-10 players in the Class of 2003.

The likes of Duke, Florida, Kansas and Louisville are all hot on the trail of Powe.

Ayinda Ubaka, a 6-foot-3 guard out of Oakland High is another local product who would give Cal's next recruiting class star power.

Braun might be in the runnnig for David Padgett, a 6-foot-11, 235-pound center from Reno High School in Reno, Nev. But like Powe, there will plenty of suitors for Padgett.

Arizona, Kansas, Northa Carolina and Stanford are high on Padgett's list along with Cal, and all have offered him a scholarship.

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