Tristen Bennett signs with GNTC

LFO senior basketball player Tristen Bennett officially became a Georgia Northwestern Bobcat in a recent ceremony at the high school. On hand for the signing were parents Clint Bennett and Kimberlie Tipton, along with sister Symerel Bennett. Also on hand were LFO head coach Jerry Jones, LFO assistant Mark Oliver and GNTC head coach David Stephenson. (Messenger photo/Scott Herpst)

Looking to fill a need, Georgia Northwestern men’s head basketball coach David Stephenson has returned to a familiar spot on the recruiting trail to add a much-needed role player to the Bobcats roster.

Tristen Bennett, a 6-foot-5 defensive specialist, recently signed with the Bobcats during a ceremony at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School, the same school that has produced a handful of players for Georgia Northwestern over the years, including Daniel Parrish and Alec Rattanaxay most recently.

“Ever since (former player and current Bobcat coach) Bud (Todd) graduated, we really haven’t had that guy who could block shots for us,” Stephenson said. “But from what (LFO head) Coach (Jerry) Jones has told me, and from what a lot of people I’ve talked to have said, Tristen loves to block shots, rebound and play defense.

“He’s not a big scorer, but we’ve needed someone that’s willing to get in there and do those types of things. He’s got great timing, long arms and seems like a really great kid. Six-foot-five kids that like to play defense are tough to find, but we think we’ve got a good one in Tristen.”

Bennett said Signing Day meant a lot to him personally.

“I’m really excited about it and looking forward to the future,” he explained. “I hope I can bring lots of good defense (to the Bobcats) and I feel like I can block some shots for them. The atmosphere (around the program) and the coaching were both big factors why I chose Georgia Northwestern.”

Jones said he believes Bennett will continue to develop as a player.

“This year he was a lot better than he was the year before and I really wish I could have him back one more year because I think he’s really going to blossom,” the veteran coach said. “His biggest asset is his shot-blocking. He’ll be worth his weight just blocking shots. He’s actually got a nice shot 10 feet from the basket, but I think he had one game with 14 or 15 blocks.

“He’s a good student and a good citizen. He just has to develop some more strength. We’re going to get him in the weight room this summer when we’re doing our lifting and try to get some more size on him.”

“One of things we talked to him about was that he needs to eat a cow,” Stephenson said jokingly. “His mom said he already does, but until he stops growing straight up, it’s hard for him to grow straight out. But we’ve already talked about him needing to put on some muscle in the weight room because (college) is a different game than he’s used to playing.”

Bennett said he plans to major in Business.