Providence freshman forward, a top 100 recruit, is cleared to play this season

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Last Friday, hours before Late Night Madness, Providence head coach Ed Cooley only wanted to mention Ben Bentil’s status briefly, as he continued to wait for a decision regarding his freshman forward’s eligibility.

A week later and Cooley got his answer, as Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal reported that the 6-foot-8 Bentil has been cleared to play this season.

“He was cleared and we’re excited to move forward with him,” Cooley told McNamara. “He was excited. He was elated.”

According to McNamara, the school’s compliance department needed to look into Bentil’s academic background. Bentil grew up in Ghana before attending high school in the United States at the St. Andrew’s School (Delaware), the prestigious boarding school best known as the setting for the 1989 drama, Dead Poet’s Society.

Adding Bentil to this year’s roster will be a lift for the Friars, who nine days ago lost wing Rodney Bullock for the season due to a torn ACL.

Bentil was listed as a four-star recruit by Rivals, one of three top 100 recruits Cooley brought to the state of Rhode Island with wing Jalen Lindsey and center Paschal Chukwu being the other two. The incoming class was rounded out with point guard Kyron Cartwright and Cleveland State transfer guard Junior Lomomba. The 7-foot-2 Chukwu and Bentil, the physical forward, join a frontline that includes LaDontae Henton, Tyler Harris and Carson Desrosiers.

Providence was voted fifth in the Big East preseason poll on Wednesday, although, after Villanova — voted as the unanimous favorite — there is plenty of uncertainty to go around the rest of the league. The inside presence of Bentil (as well as contributions from fellow newcomers), along with the recovery of Kris Dunn could help Providence defy those preseason projections and position itself for a return to the NCAA tournament.

The Friars open the season on Nov. 15 against Albany.