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Ten Things You Should Know About Rod Benson

In descending order or maybe not:

1. He ain't bad...and he keeps surprising people. He didn't play varsity basketball in high school til his senior year then took off, becoming one of the West Coast's top recruiting prizes at center. He played sparingly in his first two years at Cal, then his junior year, after Leon Powe went down, he took off again, averaging 13 and 6 for Cal. He was one of only five players to be ranked among the top 10 in scoring and rebounding in league games that season and turned in six double-doubles, third in the Pac-10, behind Ike Diogu of ASU and Matt Haryasz of Stanford and tied with Channing Frye of Arizona. Among those behind him were Hassan Adams of Arizona, Bobby Jones of Washington, and Brandon Roy of Washington. He was expected to be a big part of Cal's program his senior year, but tore his meniscus and fractured his heel. He played in the summer league in 2006 with Sacramento but wasn't invited to camp and joined the D-League. He was cut by the Austin Toros after 13 games before being picked up by the Dakota Wizards. He averaged 10 and 8 as a sixth man over the next 36, helping Dakota to the NBDL championship game. In overtime of the D-League championship game, he scored the go-ahead basket for the Wizards and they never trailed again. He finished with 12 points, 7 rebounds and 6 blocked shots, again coming off the bench. For all his joking around, he is serious on the court.

2. He is very smart. He scored 1300 on his SAT's and had a 3.2 GPA in high school, winning Governors Scholar and Golden State Exam Scholar awards. He was recruited by several Ivy League schools, but decided to stay out west. His high school coach, a former Division 1 college assistant and head coach, said you never needed to tell him something twice...he got it the first time. Then, despite playing both basketball and volleyball at the college level, he was able to graduate Cal Berkeley, one of the country's best schools, with a degree in political science...and in the alloted four years. He is politically active, supporting Barack Obama for President.

3. He is a volleyball player. He played varsity volleyball in high school before he played varsity basketball and was recognized as one of the top volleyballers in southern California, being offered scholarships in both sports. He was a middle blocker at Torrey Pines High School in San Diego and at Cal, where he helped lead the Golden Bears to the No. 1 ranking in the national club team rankings. His skills at the volleyball net are the same as those he has under the rim: quick leaping ability and shot blocking.

4. He is tall and athletic. He's listed at 6' 10" on the NBA website but his D-League coach said he is 6' 11" and his college volleyball team listed him at 6' 10 1/2". On his MySpace page, he lists his height at 6'11" He barely weighs 230 pounds, however. A lifetime of milk shakes have barely moved the needle. He makes up for his lack of physical strength with athleticism and a nice mid-range shot. His D-League coach said that even though he is 6'11", he runs the floor like he is 6'1".

5. He is younger than you would expect. He is only 22, six weeks older than Josh Boone, but four months younger than Mile Ilic. Being so young, he was still growing while at Cal which might account for those leg injuries. That youth thing is over now.

6. He can talk...and he is highly quotable. In fact, he talked so much to the media before key Cal games that he became a prime source of bulletin board quotes for other Pac-10 teams. So much that Cal's sports information director stopped letting him talk to the media. A word of warning to Gary Sussman would be appropriate.

7. He is happy to be in Nets' training camp...and claims he just might be related to Jason Kidd, who also played at Cal, albeit at a higher level. He swears his grandmother's maiden name was Kidd. Good Luck with that one,, Kidd. Still, that Cal connection alone should be enough to get you a few alley-oops from the Cuz.

8. He models himself after Kevin Garnett who he describes as "filthy rich" while describing himself as "dirty broke".

9. He is currently living in New Jersey at a hotel near the Meadowlands and the Nets' practice facility. He lists his address on his MySpace page as "East Coast...Wow".

10. He has this he started last summer because "I had just been cut from Sacramento’s summer league roster, then dumped by my girlfriend the next day. I needed something to keep my mind busy." Just go there. You'll see.