(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The Lafayette boys basketball team is coming off another successful season season that includes a district and conference championship.
But the 2013-14 squad will be without senior leader Jeff Leeson who will begin his career at Maryville University.
Head coach Chris Neff is hoping to cushion the blow of losing Leeson with an up-and-coming player.
Incoming Lafayette freshman Caleb Bennett enters high school with the expectation to see significant playing time immediately.
"Caleb has the chance to be one of the first freshmen that I've coached at Lafayette to make an impact on our program," Neff said.
Despite just exiting middle school, Bennett's already turning heads.
"I don't know that I've had anyone as athletic as Caleb, as springy, can dunk the ball in 7th and 8th grade," Neff said. "I would say Bryston Williams is as close to Caleb as we've seen, but Bryston was Caleb when Bryston was a senior. Caleb's coming out of the 8th grade doing a lot of the things that Bryston was capable of doing as a senior, so there's a high ceiling for Caleb."
He's getting noticed nationally, too.
Bennett has been invited to play in the Fab Frosh All-American Camp in Lexington, Ky. this weekend.
The Fab Frosh Camp has seen some top talent roll through in recent years including former Kentucky small forward -- and current Charlotte Bobcat -- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in 2007, and Kansas forward Perry Ellis in 2008.
The camp will give Bennett a chance to compete with 150 of the best players his age in the country, and see where he ranks among them -- but that's not the main reason why he's attending.
"The rankings don't really matter," Bennett said. "It's just going there and getting to see how good they are, prove my game, and to be a better basketball player."
It's no surprise Bennett excels at basketball, he comes by it honestly.
His dad, Stacy Bennett, was a letter winner while playing at Division I Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University), and his uncle, Elmer Bennett, played college ball at Notre Dame before getting drafted in the second round of the 1992 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks.
"They've had an extreme influence on my basketball," Bennett said of his father and uncle.
Elmer Bennett spent part of three seasons in the NBA before moving on to the Euroleague where he averaged over ten points and four assists per game for the rest of his career while playing for Tau Ceramica, Real Madrid and DKV Joventut.
"My dad taught me everything I know, and my dad taught my Uncle Elmer everything that he knows."
Bennett's still soaking up everything about the game from his dad that he can.
"I really love basketball, and he said that he would push me," Bennett said. "He is going to push me to my limits, and he wants me to be the best that I can be."
"It's an atmosphere of fun," Neff said. "Basketball is something that his family, his younger brothers, his father and mother, they thrive on it and enjoy as a family."
For now, Bennett's just looking to carry that family tradition over to high school, and hopefully beyond.
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