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MCGILL: @HerdMBB Freshmen Hit Campus, Get Started

June 5, 2017

By Chuck McGill

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Their first 24 hours on a college campus seemed typical.

The four incoming freshmen for the Marshall men’s basketball program – Iran Bennett, Darius George, Tanner Robinette and Jarrod West – got settled this week before their first workout together Monday afternoon. Bennett and Robinette – roommates who played together at Hargrave Military Academy – took their physicals, got acquainted with their new teammates and had dinner at Fat Patty’s. George and West – roommates and former teammates on the AAU circuit – unpacked their belongings, made their beds and organized their closets.

“We chilled out, got something to eat and watched the (NBA finals) game,” Bennett said of the quartet’s Sunday, their first official day as student-athletes.

Then, on Monday, they had their first team work out after a morning session in the weight room.

“It feels pretty good,” said West, a Clarksburg native who won the 2017 Evans Award as West Virginia’s top high school boys basketball player. “I’m excited about the opportunity to be here and play at the next level. It’s a dream come true, and what I’ve worked for my whole life.



“It’s different – not being around my parents and my family every day. But I’ve got great roommates, great teammates, great managers and great coaches.”

West, the son of a former college basketball player of the same name, is part of a recruiting class that possesses the perfect blend of attributes. The 5-foot, 11-inch point guard scored 29 points in Notre Dame’s Class A state championship win against Ravenswood, the school’s first title.

“This is a great opportunity for me,” said West, who turned 18 on March 29. “I just got out of high school, graduated two weeks ago, and now I’m here and preparing for the upcoming season.”

West, who wore No. 5 in Monday’s work out, will room with Darius George, his former AAU teammate. George averaged 24.5 points and 9.7 rebounds at Robert E. Lee High School in Virginia, and was named the VHSL 2A Player of the Year after his senior season.

“This is completely different than high school, so I have to get used to it,” George said. “There’s a lot more freedom and you have to be on your own, do your own stuff, but that’s part of growing up.”

George gushed about the campus and city before his thoughts drifted back to basketball. George, who is 6 feet and 7 inches tall, is 191 pounds. He’d like to add more than 20 pounds to his frame, a process that started with Monday morning’s weight lifting session.

“I need to get bigger,” he said. “They are going to help me get there so I can be strong in the paint.”

George will have plenty of help there. Robinette was listed at 6-8 and 235 pounds last season, while Bennett was listed at 6-10 and 315 pounds. They played for A.W. Hamilton, a former Marshall basketball player, at Hargrave.

“It feels real good to finally be here,” Bennett said.

The gentle giant has massive hands and quick feet, and will bring a new element to the #Danalytics style of basketball.

“We were just talking about that today,” Bennett said. “We are going to change my game and have me facing the basket instead of having my back to the goal. We’ll work on it.”

Bennett described himself as a “very chill person” who likes to spend time playing video games and hanging out with friends.

“I just like to have fun,” he said, “especially on the court.”

Robinette is originally from Honaker, Virginia, which is about 80 miles south of Williamson, the hometown of assistant coach Mark Cline. The soft-spoken forward with a subtle country accent said he is working to hone his perimeter game.

“I need to get in better shape and to become able to stretch the floor and hit jump shots,” Robinette said. “I always played center on my high school team because I was the biggest player on the team, but here I have to hit outside shots and get better on the perimeter.”

He said Hargrave gave him a “strict” environment that helped prepare him for Marshall, a place he has envisioned himself playing for years.

“Marshall is my dream school,” Robinette said. “Always has been. This is where I wanted to come since my sophomore year of high school.”

Each player rattled off a list of ways they wanted to improve now that they have two sneakers on campus, but Bennett made the boldest declaration:

“I just want to come in and dominate,” he said, “and be in the starting lineup this year.”

Monday afternoon’s brief work out also featured Dani Kolijanin, a junior college transfer who played at Monroe College in New Rochelle, New York. Kolijanin, who is from Croatia, led Monroe with 13.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. He has two years of eligibility remaining.