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Panthers Target Rare Local Gem

Email Chris Dokish


The Pittsburgh area has never been known for great high school basketball.  Most of the best athletes in the area choose football as their way of getting a free education.  The last excellent player to come out of the area was former Cincinatti star Danny Fortson a decade ago.  And he only played in the area as a senior.  Other notable Division 1 players to come out of the area in recent years have been Dante Calabria at North Carolina, Archie Miller at North Carolina State, Drew Schifino at West Virginia, and Brandon Fuss-Cheatham at Ohio State.  Pitt has made the best of what little talent there is in the area by grabbing Archie’s older brother, Sean, Darrelle Porter, Jermaine Morgan, and Yuri Demetris, currently a reserve guard for the Panthers.


These facts are what make Ben McCauley the most intriguing player that Pitt has targeted in years.  McCauley, a sixteen year-old junior at Yough (pronounced “yawk”) High School in Herminie, PA, is on track to be the most highly recruited big man the area has seen since Fortson.


Growing two inches in the last year, McCauley now stands at 6’9”.  That height gives him a huge advantage in a region that has very few big men.  But, it’s what comes with that height that has college coaches drooling.  He handles the ball like a small forward, is very athletic, is a competent shooter, and has a great feel for how to play the game.   Add that to his low post skills of shot blocking and rebounding, and a star is born.  Simply put, he has an all around game that causes difficult match ups for opponents.


Any weaknesses?


Well, he is only 16 years old, and when you are 6’9”, it’s tough to get muscle on such a long frame.  But, McCauley, always the hard worker, is already taking steps to rectify it.


“I do feel I must get stronger to take it to the next level,” says McCauley.  “I lifted a lot in the off season with my coach, and I am going to continue doing that when the season is over”.


McCauley has become quite the sensation at Yough, where players sent to a Dvision 1 school in any sport can be counted on one hand.  But McCauley keeps it all in perspective.


“I feel very good that almost everyone in the school district knows me.  But I don’t let it get to my head.  I’m really happy that everyone comes to watch me play and fills up the stands, which never really happened before.”


McCauley probably never would have gotten the publicity he has now by just playing at Yough, though.  Even though he did average over 23 points and 16 rebounds a game as a sophomore.  It was his AAU play this past summer that put him on the map.  Playing for the Pittsburgh JOTS, McCauley participated in tournaments around the country, and that is where college coaches took serious note of him.


Even though his junior season just started (he has averaged 26.5 points in the first two games), McCauley has plenty of scholarship offers. 


“Pitt, Duquesne, NC State, St. Bonaventure, Western Kentucky, and Eastern Michigan have all offered me a scholarship,” McCauley states.  “Maryland has sent some letters, along with Xavier, which I visited earlier in November.  And Dayton, which I also visited while I was out in Ohio for Xavier.”


Any favorites?


“I’ve always liked Maryland since I was a kid,” McCauley reports.  “But as of right now, Pitt definitely has to be the top choice.  It’s close to home so all of my hometown fans can watch.  I’ve met the coaches for Pitt, who I like a lot.  I think you need to be able to be comfortable with your coaches to be an effective player.”


McCauley says that as of right now he wants to study architecture or education in college.  No matter what he decides, he is already big in the eyes of the residents of his hometown of West Newton, PA, on the banks of the Youghiogheny River, and just 25 miles south of Pittsburgh.  His family has owned a very successful funeral home in town for decades, but it looks like the next generation may have bigger plans.  McCauley has no doubts that he can do it.


“I feel if I work as hard as I can, I can play in any conference.”


It looks like he is going to get his wish.  It’s still a long way off until he can sign a letter of intent, but the way he is progressing will only add to the amount of opportunities that lay before him.

by Chris Dokish


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