Center Brock Benson and forward Harrison Blackledge made their mark on the basketball court for Hope College during the 2014-15 season and earned their first All-Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association First Team honors.
Benson and Blackledge are among six first-team players chosen by the league’s coaches, it was announced on Tuesday. Teammate Ben Gardner was named to the All-MIAA Second Team.
Benson led the MIAA in rebounding by averaging 7.6 over 14 league games. The junior from Willowbrook, Illinois (Hinsdale South HS), finished eighth in MIAA games in scoring at 13.4 while shooting a league-best 65.1 percent from the field (69-of-106). He was fourth in blocked shots with 1.0 average.
Hope coach Greg Mitchell said Benson was a workhorse for the Flying Dutchmen this season and evolved into a dominant post player in the MIAA.
“His savvy and poise around the basket made him a dual threat as he was outstanding at finding open shooters on the perimeter when double-teamed,” Mitchell said. “Brock showed up each day at practice to work and get better and it’s this approach that his teammates and coaches admired. The sky is the limit for his senior season and I’m confident he will work extremely hard to reach his potential.”
Blackledge was the MIAA’s fourth-highest scorer in league games with a Flying Dutchmen-best 15.4 points per game. The sophomore from Canton, Ohio (Hoover HS), tied for fourth in field-goal percentage at 59.3 (64-108), placed eighth in free-throw percentage at 83.2 (89-107), and was ninth in rebounding at 5.4.
Mitchell said Blackledge’s versatility at the four-spot allowed Hope to attack teams in various ways.
“I thought he may have improved more than any player on our team, and by the mid-point in the season, Harrison was giving us a high level of productivity every game.” Mitchell said. “The development of is on-court leadership and toughness certainly propelled us. I’m anxious to see him take that next step as an upperclassman!”
Gardner tied for fourth with 2.93 assists in league games. The junior from Carmel, Indiana (Carmel HS), placed fifth in free-throw shooting at 87.2 percent, tied for fifth in steals at 1.43, and was 13th in scoring at 11.4 points per game.
Mitchell said Gardner’s competitive drive is what propelled him to the success he had.
“He is a tough-minded player who will do whatever it takes to help his team succeed,” Mitchell said. “Ben was called upon to guard the other team’s top perimeter player. He was a relentless worker at both ends of the floor and really developed his leadership skills as the season continued.
“Ben was elected as a co-captain by his teammates and we are thrilled to have him back next year leading our team as a senior.”
Benson, Blackledge and Gardner helped the Flying Dutchmen to an 18-9 overall record, a second-place tie in the MIAA standings and a runner-up finish in the MIAA Tournament.