Aug. 18, 2011
ROCHESTER, Mich. - Former Oakland men's basketball standout Keith Benson will be heading to the island of Sardinia to play professional basketball with Italian team Sassari, OU head coach Greg Kampe announced on Thursday. A second-round pick by the Atlanta Hawks, Benson was the first Oakland player ever selected in the NBA draft.
"We're delighted for Keith," said Kampe. "I know he has worked hard in the past couple of months with our strength coach Todd Wohlfeil and he has his weight up to 233, with a goal of 240."
Benson required and received an opt-out clause in his contract with Sassari, which will enable him to rejoin the Hawks when the NBA lockout ends. The 6-foot-11-inch center has been working with Director of Strength and Conditioning Todd Wohlfeil to add weight and strength to his frame.
During his Oakland career, Benson was a two-time Associated Press All-America honorable mention honoree. A two-time Summit League Player of the Year, Benson was also named The Summit League Defensive Player of the Year as a senior, where he established himself as the league's career leader with 371 blocked shots. He finished as a three-time All-Summit League selection and is the only Summit League player to surpass 1,500 points, 1,000 rebounds and 300 blocks.
Benson is the second player from the 2010-11 team to sign a professional contract overseas, as Will Hudson signed to play in Australia on Monday. Benson will leave at the end of August to join his new team.
"I know he is excited and sees Italy as an opportunity to learn and continue to prepare himself mentally and physically, so that he is ready to join the Hawks when the lockout ends," said Kampe. "It's great that he is getting paid to play the game he loves."