Las Cruces, New Mexico (KTSM) – Signed, sealed, and delivered.
On Friday, Las Cruces’ High School basketball standout Deuce Benjamin officially signed his National Letter of Intent (NLI) to play at New Mexico State for the 2022-2023 season.
Deuce sported a New Mexico State hat and shirt along with the rest of his family at the signing ceremony at Las Cruces High School.
The moment he officially signed to play basketball at the division one level was one he had in sight at a very young age.
“I was just thinking back at how I was a kid and everything talking about wanting to play DI [Division one],” Benjamin said. “Now that I am over here signing papers, it is just really exciting, and it is a great time.”
Deuce will now be a part of NM State men’s basketball head coach Greg Heiar’s roster for the upcoming season. It is an opportunity that the 6-foot-1 guard is ready and excited for after getting to know Heiar more in the recruiting process.
“It was a hard decision because I really did not know coach [Greg] Hear at first,” said Benjamin. “Just getting to know him, he seemed like a great dude and just made me feel like he wanted me there and I chose NMSU.”
“Coach [Greg] Heiar came in and he was just really accepting and really open to us about talking about Deuce going to New Mexico State,” said Deuce’s father and former high school head coach, William Benjamin Sr. “He really made Deuce feel wanted and that was very important and after coach Heiar talked to Deuce, he had a totally different attitude about going to New Mexico State.”
The conversation Heiar had with Deuce was one that convinced the 2020-21 Gatorade New Mexico Boys Basketball Player of the Year to stay in Aggies’ territory.
“Probably before then he was leaning towards going to a junior college but because of how coach Heiar made him feel, he totally changed his mind and wanted to be an Aggie,” said Benjamin Sr. “Which is great for me because now I actually have the opportunity to see him play, I haven’t been able to see him play for four years because I am coaching, but now I will actually get to have the opportunity to see him play so that makes me feel good.”
Benjamin Sr. will now get to see his son play in the Aggies’ crimson red and white uniforms just like he did back in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The opportunity presented for Deuce Benjamin to play at New Mexico State is one that holds a lot of meaning to both Deuce and William Benjamin Sr.
“It means a lot because he [William Benjamin Sr.] went there and I get to start my journey there so it is a great opportunity.” said Deuce.
“It don’t mean that much to me and I’m sure I say that now but once he has an Aggie uniform on and he is running out there with the other guys, I will probably have a different feeling about it,” said Benjamin Sr. “I am just so glad that he [Deuce] has been able to put in enough time to where one of his dreams of playing division one basketball has come true. Whether it is at New Mexico State or some place else I’d be just as proud but it is nice for the community, you have several people that remembered when I played so to have my son getting a division one scholarship to play at New Mexico State feels good.”
Benjamin Sr. was part of the Aggies’ best squads in the nation back then. Through his tenure with New Mexico State, Benjamin led NM State to a 95-30 overall mark which included a 55-17 mark in Big West action.
Benjamin Sr. went to one NIT (1989) and a trio of NCAA Tournaments (1990, 1991 and 1992) during his time with the Aggies’.
Deuce now looks to carry the torch of success his father had at NM State into the upcoming season.
“My goal is to win, my goal is to get up there and play,” said Benjamin. “I just got to start grinding and working hard the same as I did in high school so you know the work has to go up.”
Benjamin was one of the top players at the high school level in the state of New Mexico the last four years.
In his junior year, Benjamin Jr., was named the 2020-21 Gatorade New Mexico Boys Basketball Player of the Year which was announced by the New Mexico Activities Association (NMAA).
In his senior year, the 6-foot-1 guard averaged 25.3 points, 6.9 assists, and 5.7 rebounds per game and led the Bulldawgs to a 31-1 record on the year, with the only loss coming to Volcano Vista in last season’s NMAA boys’ basketball 5A championship game.
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