One word came into Stampede coach Mike Peck's mind when he heard that Anthony Bennett, a player Peck coached in high school, was the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday's NBA Draft.
"Wow," said Peck, who joined the Stampede prior to last season. "Bennett was always in the mix, because they said there were four or five guys who could go anywhere from one to 10. So you knew it was possible, but honestly, you didn't expect it."
Peck coached a number of players at Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) who went on to become NBA players. But Bennett is the first former pupil to go on to be a top pick. Peck said he wouldn't be surprised if the Cleveland Cavaliers end up being completely satisfied with the surprising choice.
"People don't realize he's only been playing basketball seriously since he was 14," Peck said. "And it's not like he eased into it. He got thrown into the highest level (at Findlay and then UNLV). It's not like he started out with a beginner course and he was able to slowly transition and progress. Uh-uh, with him, it was more like, 'Jump in, it's 20 feet deep. Now swim.'"
Bennett proved to be a quick study and a rare talent.
In his one season at UNLV, Bennett was named the Mountain West Freshman of the Year and earned a spot on the USBWA's Freshman All-America Team.