Former Ball State women's basketball center Renee Bennett is hoping to make the case that she's good enough to play with the best in the WNBA.
Over the weekend, Bennett was invited to take part in the New York Liberty's annual training camp with players from programs such as Connecticut, Notre Dame and Florida State.
“She’s been going through every emotion, from nervous to excited to anxious to everywhere in between and now that she’s up there going through it, it’s eye-opening," Ball State head coach Brady Sallee said. "[The WNBA is] a whole different animal and a different level that she’s [been] competing at."
The camp began on Sunday and includes a 19-woman roster, including six rookies, three of whom were drafted by the Liberty in this season's WNBA draft.
Sallee has talked to Bennett several times since she earned the camp spot, and he has encouraged her to be herself and not to change her game.
"She’s with the who’s-who now," Sallee said. "I think she understands that there’s a reason that they asked her because of the skill set she has. What I tried to tell her was you don’t have to be any different, you just gotta go be you. If that is what they’re looking for, then she’ll get an opportunity, if it’s not she’ll go over to Europe and play and maybe have a chance to come back next year."
Bennett's progression to the training squad also speaks volumes about the future of the program, Sallee said, and helps show the strides the team is taking in the future.
“Clearly, there’s some benefit to our program,” Sallee said. “It speaks volumes about the level of player that we can have in our program, [in] development and what we can do. Make no bones about it, this is about Renee and her abilities got her there and her abilities will hopefully have her playing professionally for a while."
The New York Liberty opens up its preseason May 2, and the team must have its roster shrunk to 12 or less by the team's first regular season game on May 13 against the San Antonio Stars.
“She’s got so many doors open right now, it's kind of exciting because she’s just on the front door step of her pro career, but this is a heck of a way to start it,” Sallee said.