Mountaineers add commitment from ‘Kaminsky-like’ Polish forward Bender

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Polish power forward Maciej Bender was a newcomer to the United States in 2013 when West Virginia assistant Ron Everhart came to check him out at Mountain Mission School in Grundy, Va.

Maciej Bender averaged 13 points and eight rebounds as a junior at Mountain Mission School in Grundy, Va.

More than two years later, having developed into a major-college prospect, the 6-foot-10 Bender committed to West Virginia on Sunday night. Rivals and 247Sports rate him a three-star recruit, while ESPN gives him four stars.

“Ron did a fantastic job building the relationship,” said Mountain Mission assistant coach Justin Dempsey. “He saw how special the kid was before a lot of people did. Ronnie was on him from day one and when Huggs got a chance to see him, I think he saw the same thing.”

Bender took his first official visit to Ole Miss before coming to Morgantown two weekends ago. He also holds offers from Georgia, Georgia Tech, Arizona State, Davidson and Providence. Florida and Purdue were among the schools scrambling to schedule one of Bender’s remaining visits when he decided on West Virginia.

“Believe me, this kid is special. He may be the most underrated four-star player on ESPN’s board,” Dempsey said. “When people see how far he has come this season, he may wind up being a top-100 player.”

Dempsey gushes over Bender’s skills—3-point touch mixed with back-to-the-basket post moves, the ability to break down guards on the perimeter—and compares him to a recent under-recruited big man who evolved into a college star.

“I think he’s Kaminsky-like but probably more agile than Kaminsky, because Maciej can put it on the floor,” Dempsey said. “This is a great get for West Virginia.”

Playing a national schedule that includes Oak Hill Academy and Huntington Prep, Bender has been exposed to talented competition. He averaged 13 points and eight rebounds as a junior, playing alongside Rivals four-star big man Jethro Tshiumpa, who’s currently committed to Arizona State.

“When Maciej first got here he played like a lot of European kids—didn’t like contact, wasn’t real physical, didn’t like to bang,” Dempsey said. “But he has adjusted to the physicality of the American game, and he’s always had a brilliant basketball IQ. You draw something down one time and has it.”

Bender became the second international player to commit to the Mountaineers in 72 hours, joining 6-8 power forward Sagaba Konate of Hermitage, Pa.

In-state guards Chase Harler of Wheeling Central and Brandon Knapper of South Charleston have been committed since last fall.

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