By: Ethan Fuller
Featured image courtesy of the New Jersey Hills Media Group.
Marisa Moseley bolstered her backcourt rotation when Basking Ridge, NJ native Sophie Beneventine signed on with Boston University women’s basketball in November. A 5-8 guard, Beneventine was thrust into Ridge High School’s starting lineup as a freshman and held down the point guard position all four years.
The 1,000-point scorer continues a line of Ridge graduates to don scarlet and white, as she will take the baton from graduating men’s basketball star Max Mahoney. But her game — a quiet leadership and otherworldly court vision — calls to mind Terrier starter Katie Nelson.
Beneventine talked to Ethan Fuller on Sunday about her development as a player and leader.
Ethan Fuller: What did four years as a starter at Ridge do for your maturity?
Sophie Beneventine: Every single year I’d learn more and more, and I saw different ways of how to lead. It definitely was a huge challenge for me, but … it definitely helped me learn to approach different situations in a mature, right way.
EF: When do you think it was during your first year that you learned you belong?
SB: It was actually the first game. I was really nervous; everyone could tell I was this small little freshman, but the people were all, “Who’s this girl?” And I came out and I did what I did and they started to see, okay, we should probably listen to this girl and, you know, trust her. I think from that moment on — well, even as a freshman I didn’t have the hang of it until my sophomore year when I started to find my voice a lot more.
EF: You’re also the youngest of five siblings who all played sports at some level. What was that competition like in your family?
SB: We were always competing. Growing up, even just playing pickup with my sister or my brother, we would just go at it. That definitely did help me — being a competitor, you want to win, so it helped my attitude towards every game.
EF: What was the development process like for you to gain the vision and poise that you have?
SB: I’ve been playing basketball for about eight years and definitely was not always the outspoken one. I don’t really lead with a lot of words, it’s more action. [But] every year of AAU I played, the team was always a year older than me — the girls I was playing with were all older than me because I tried out in fourth grade for the fifth grade team, which was the only program available.
But one year my AAU coach was talking to my dad — I think I was a freshman going into sophomore year — and my dad asked: if he could give any advice, what would he give [me]? And he said, if I could get one step quicker with the top DI guards. So the next three years and the past year I’ve been working with my trainer on my speed and my strength adjusting to the game, which has pushed my confidence and made me a better leader on the court as well.
EF: With the lack of gyms and facilities open right now, what does training look like for you?
SB: I just do a lot of stuff with my trainer but at my house with a lot of different equipment. I’m using textbooks for certain things (laughs). It’s an adjustment to it by myself at home but I’m making the best out of it.
EF: You verbally committed to BU in March of your junior year — what made you so confident?
SB: People asked me all the time about what I want in a school and I’ve never had a picky attitude … for me, many things are gut feelings. And as soon as [I finished] my first unofficial visit at BU it just kinda clicked, that this place will give me the best of everything: the coaching, the whole entire program, the team. You can’t beat Boston, and as soon as I met Coach Mo, I feel like — there’s something about her that you just can’t get with every other coach. I just get this feeling about her.
EF: What was the recruiting journey like for you?
SB: It was long, but rewarding. I think I started getting offers and doing [unofficial visits] my sophomore year. Freshman year we didn’t know what was gonna happen because you never really know how you’re gonna progress through your four years.
Throughout each visit I would pick out some certain things about every school and every time we talked to a coach it was really exciting. But there was just something when I left BU the first time — there was just something I knew that was there that the other schools didn’t really have and I just felt.
EF: What kind of players do you enjoy watching and modeling your game after?
SB: I think my top one is probably [Ja Morant] the point guard from Murray St. He played for Murray St. last year in the NCAA Tournament and when I watched him play in the NCAA Tournament I followed him to the NBA. And definitely Kyrie Irving. He’s the most shifty guard I’ve ever seen in my life — it’s unbelievable.
EF: If you could upset any team in the NCAA Tournament, what team would you beat?
SB: For me, in the NCAA Tournament, probably Maryland. Every year we played Franklin [High School] which had Diamond Miller [a former McDonald’s All-American and Gatorade Player of the Year in New Jersey, now at Maryland] on it, and they’d beat every team by so many points. Last year we played against them and we only lost by six, and it was a huge thing because then they won the TOC of New Jersey, so it was a huge deal we only lost by six. We were staying with them the whole game and at one point, beating them.
Then this year was lost to them in the final, but they didn’t have Miller. So my team to beat would be Maryland so I can get Diamond Miller again.
EF: If you could pick one pregame hype song, what would you pick?
SB: I think I would pick “Over” by Drake. It was in this year’s playlist of warmup songs and it was the first one that started out, and this year was, like, our year for Ridge. We had our best year and I had my year. It’s something about that song that just gets me hyped up every time because it reminds me of this season.
EF: What was it about this year that made it so great?
SB: We had a great senior class and this year I kinda came into a different mental state. I just kinda said, “Screw it,” because you compare my stats to the last three years, and something was just turned on this year in every game. If I had a chance to go off, I went off. It was a good season; it was a solid season that I’m very proud of.
EF: What about Ridge and about where you’re from do you want to bring to Boston?
SB: I think that Ridge itself is a very stereotypical town that a lot of people don’t see someone like me coming from. I think just coming to BU I wanna show people that just because I’m from a certain town, that doesn’t mean anything. I wanna bring a new light to somebody like me who doesn’t play the way you expect and acts the way they do. A very hard-working, confident kid who wants the best for her teammates and wants to win.
I just think some things are unexpected. You expect somebody to lead by talking all the time and telling people what to do, and that’s never been the way with me. I’ve never been that way with anybody. Leading by example has the most effect.
This interview has been edited and condensed.