South Grand Prairie (Grand Prairie, TX) won over 30 games in each of the past two seasons, reaching the regional finals (state semifinals) in 2011/2012. Sparked by its class of 2013, which features Virginia Tech-bound two-guard/small forward Ben Emelogu , SGP captured a regional title and moved on to the 5A state championship game in 2012/2013.
“It all boils down to senior leadership. We had six seniors this season, and three were starters,” said South Grand Prairie head coach Brandon Bennett, whose team lost by eight points in the title game to Fort Bend Travis.
“They just responded all year, no matter what the situation as. That was the special thing about this team. They were resilient. There were some times when a lot of teams would pack up and stop playing, but our guys just kept playing. That comes from the seniors. They step up and respond, and the young guys follow.”
Emelogu led the team in scoring with an average of around 14 points per game. The 6’5″, 190-pound senior guard also led the team in rebounding.
“Ben was phenomenal for us,” Bennett said. “He was the guy who made us go. He’s the guy everybody on the team looks to for leadership, by example and vocal leadership. Whenever we needed points, rebounds, he was the guy we looked to. He led us in scoring and rebounding. We had almost three guys who averaged double digits.”
Coach Bennett, who calls Emelogu a “gym rat,” discussed what else makes the future Hokie a quality basketball player.
“He just battles,” Bennett said of Emelogu, who chose Virginia Tech over offers from Marquette, TCU, Washington, and more. “He’s physical. He knocks shots down. With me, he had the green light to go and make plays. His game is so versatile. He can score the ball. He could score in bunches, but in the system we play in, we have so much balance that he passed to other guys. But the kid can score. He could have averaged 20-plus points per game. He can shoot it from deep, drive, and he can score in the paint. He’s an unbelievable rebounder. In college, he’ll get better in all things. He’ll get better at posting people up. His shooting and ball-handling, those things will make him really tough to guard. If you back off of him, he can shoot it. If you go up on him, he can...
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