Hometown: Indianapolis, IN
- 2009-10 Big Ten All-Freshman Team (unanimous)
- 2010-11 All-Big Ten First Team
- 2011-12 Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year
- 2011-12 Big Ten All-Defensive Team
- 2012-13 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association
-Honorable Mention All-American
The Lady Lions find themselves ranked 8th in the Associated Press (AP) preseason poll, the highest ranking they have earned in nearly a decade. This lofty distinction can be traced to a few different variables, but the most important factor is that the 2012-13 season marks the last for Lady Lion point guard Alex Bentley. No one (and that includes Maggie Lucas) means more to Penn State than their star point guard. Whether you choose to gauge impact in terms of wins/losses, affect on team chemistry, or any other measure, it is tough to deny Alex’s importance. Bentley, after all, has been voted the Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons, this year sharing the honor with Ohio State’s Tayler Hill. #20 provides PSU with versatility that would put a Swiss Army knife to shame, and she is a presence that will be sorely missed in years hereafter. Since this is Bentley’s fourth and final campaign, it is only fitting to give you the top four reasons why Alex Bentley is Penn State’s cornerstone player and will be missed dearly upon graduation.
Arguably the biggest area that separates Bentley from her stellar backcourt mate and prolific scorer, Maggie Lucas, is Bentley’s ability on the other side of the court. Bentley not only has the responsibility of barking out the defensive sets, but she routinely is assigned the other team’s most dynamic guard on defense, and she routinely gives her fits for 40 minutes. Bentley has a unique blend of lateral quickness and lower body strength for the women’s game. This allows her to always be balanced and keep players in front of her, forcing the opponent into inefficient and difficult shooting areas on the floor. She also has quick hands and has used them to amass 216 steals through her junior season (ranking her 12th all time on the lady lions career steals list). In 2012, Bentley became the first Lady Lion since Jess Strom in 2004-05 to lead the Big Ten Conference in steals (3.1 spg).
The key to any successful basketball team, especially in the college game, is the combination of good coaching and good point guard play. Having a point guard that can score is nice, and having one that can distribute the ball is another positive. But when you’re point guard has a great feel for the game of basketball you know you’re team can be truly elite. Alex encompasses just that. She knows when to get Maggie going offensively. She knows when to feed the bigs down low to keep them engaged in the proceedings. And every once in a while, when the team is facing adversity or the game is tight, she can call her own number and pour in some much needed buckets.
“The thing I like about Alex is the way she reads the game. She’s an Indy kid and those guys grow up on basketball and they just seem to have a great awareness of the game. I was a former point guard and I love the way she distributes the ball.” -Beth Mowins, ESPN commentator
Bentley has been Penn State’s starting point guard ever since she stepped foot on campus four years ago. 99 games played, 97 games started, and 3,182 minutes played later, Bentley has experience unmatched by just about any other collegiate player in the game today. Expanding on what I discussed previously, Alex’s growth into the team’s unquestioned leader on the court has left her with unlimited knowhow into what lies ahead for her senior season. It is her knowledge and experience that could potentially lift Penn State over the hump this year and land them in New Orleans for the Final Four. Any real college hoops fan knows that the NCAA tournament is murky and rocky terrain that many contenders have to traverse; and many of them fail. But there is no one else head coach Coquese Washington would rather have in the driver’s seat than Alex Bentley. And the senior point guard has yet to disappoint.
“Alex Bentley is the best player in women’s basketball in the last couple years, that I have personally seen play.” -Justin Kutcher, ESPN commentator
Off the Court
Those accolades are all well and good, but that is not what defines Alex Bentley. Truth be told, Bentley is just as good of a person off the court as she is a player on it. She is among 30 nationwide finalists for the Lowes Senior CLASS Award, going to the student-athlete that most exemplifies four areas of excellence: Community, Classroom, Character, and Competition. Along with being an exceptional student and displaying impeccable character, Bentley is heavily involved in the community. According the Senior CLASS Award’s website, she has painted houses as a part of the Day of Caring sponsored by the United Way as well as volunteered a local elementary school’s Special Olympics Basketball Clinic. Furthermore, Bentley and her teammates have been actively involved in Fundraisers for the Penn State Pink Zone initiative to raise over $560,000 in support of Breast Cancer research. It is actions off the court such as these that not only keep the rest of the team accountable for their own behavior, but provide them with someone to look up to and strive to match in terms of contributions to the community. That illustrates the example-driven leadership Bentley exudes for her team to follow, both on and off the court.
With players like Maggie Lucas, Candice Agee, and Dara Taylor returning next year for the Lady Lions in 2013-14, the cupboard certainly isn’t going to be bare. However, one huge gap will become very apparent for the players and fans alike. I will be rooting hard for the Lady Lions to finally break through this season and reach that elusive Final Four destination. If for nothing else, it’s because Alex Bentley deserves as much before she heads to the WNBA, where I’m sure she will be just as important to her future franchise as she has been to Happy Valley.