Anthony Bennett arrived at UNLV this season with no shortage of hype.
Not only was he rated as one of the top high school players in the nation coming out of national power Findlay Prep in Nevada, but he was also tabbed as one of the top college players in the country, a lofty label for a freshman.
Yet, as the No. 20 Runnin’ Rebels cruised past Division III LaVerne on Thursday night, winning 91-44 to improve to 8-1, Bennett once again proved that the hype placed upon his shoulders has not been over-stated.
Bennett is the real deal, and against LaVerne, he lit up the scoreboard for 27 points and also pulled down 14 rebounds.
Five times he has scored 20 or more points, including in the last two games, and he has led the team in rebounding four times, grabbing 27 rebounds in the last two games.
“He’s (Bennett) able to use his versatility,” UNLV head coach Dave Rice said in a post-game press conference. “Our guys have done a terrific job of post feeding him.”
And that probably isn’t going to change anytime soon.
Not when Bennett has emerged as the leading scorer for this team in its last seven games and not when he has become one of the top scoring threats in the Mountain West Conference at 20.3 points per outing.
It’s safe to say MWC Freshman of the Year honors is a lock for Bennett. Player of the year honors in the conference might be a lock as well.
After all, if Bennett continues to play the way he has in the first two months of the season, it’s going to be tough to make a case that he doesn’t deserve both awards.
Brian Lester is a featured Big Ten columnist and college basketball writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @BLester1993 or send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.