Joe Smith, Local Sports, Sports, Trinity Christian

Trinity’s Bennett says choosing Waynesburg was a “dream come true”

MORGANTOWN — Most high school basketball players in Morgantown grow up with dreams of one day donning the Gold and Blue for the Mountaineers. Trinity Christian senior Briston Bennett — who resides in Mount Morris, Pa. — is a little different.

“Growing up, I was just as close to Waynesburg University as WVU, and over the past year or two I started to watch their games,” he said.

“As I got more serious about playing at the college level, I started visiting their campus and going to more games.”

On Thursday, Bennett sealed his connection with Waynesburg, as he commited to play for the Division III Yellow Jackets.

“It’s a dream come true. I’ve been telling my family this for a long time. Growing up in Greene County, I always had the dream of playing at Waynesburg,” he said.

“It’s very fulfilling and rewarding to be able to say I’m moving on to the college level. I know that’s just a testament to the work I’ve put in and the people I have in my life that supported me.”

Bennett averaged 14 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals per game as he helped lead the Warriors to their second-consecutive Class A state tournament appearance.

“He will bring a leader’s mentality and a willingness to commit to his program with him to Waynesburg,” Trinity coach John Fowkes said, which he thinks will serve him well in adapting to the college game.

“He became our leader on the court, in the weight room and anything related to basketball. He can use his words and actions, too, as influence. He’s very charismatic, and he was a team co-captain.

“I think he’s going to do whatever his coach asks him to do to see floor time, and when you go to that level you have to buy into the coach or you’re going to struggle. He came in his sophomore year and wasn’t too sure about us as a coaching staff and then he bought in, and you saw what happened.”

As a Division III program, Waynesburg does not offer athletic financial aid, but Bennett was awarded the Founders Scholarship — an award covering full tuition and fees for in-state residents with a GPA at or above 3.5 and an ACT score of 26 or higher.

“This is the first school year they’re having this scholarship. Hundreds applied for it, and they narrowed it down to fifteen before going into an interview process. I was lucky to be one of three awarded this scholarship,” Bennett said.

“As I got older I started to realize what academics could do for me just as much as basketball could. While I’m grateful for the opportunity I have to continue my basketball career, but I know Waynesburg will provide me an awesome education.”

Hart chooses Chatham
Just a little over a year ago, Trinity point guard Josh Hart was a sixth-man — a role player backing up starter Caleb Jenkins.

Fast forward to this week, and the senior realized his dream of continuing his career at the next level.

On Thursday, he committed to attend Chatham University (Pa.), joining a squad which recently captured the 2019 PAC Tournament Championship.

“It’s really awesome. It’s a dream, really. Ever since I was little, I wanted to play for one of those NCAA schools and have that logo on my jersey,” Hart said.

Hart’s metamorphosis as a player came following an injury to Jenkins late in the 2017-18 season. Jenkins would return in the post-season, but would transfer to South Harrison following the season, leaving the job open for Hart.

“He has a really high basketball IQ, and he’s willing to put the extra work in to be successful. He started to become a floor general last year after Caleb Jenkins got hurt,” Fowkes said.

Hart proved himself as a college-level player in the starting role this past season, playing a critical role for the Warriors. A pass-first point guard, he led the the team with four assists per game, while also adding nine points per game.

Hart also recieved offers from West Virginia Wesleyan and Westminster (Pa.), but chose the Cougars due to similarites between the program and the playing style both Hart and his teammates employed at Trinity.

“They had the highest rated defense in their conference this past year. They pressured people with the ball a lot and pushed the ball out in transition. They’re very guard heavy, which is how we were this past season,” Hart said.