Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)
Qudire Bennett introduced himself to the local hoops scene during a district playback game in his freshman year at Plymouth Whitemarsh. With several older teammates out, the young Bennett had the chance to shine, going off for 28 points.
Outings like that have become more and more routine in the three seasons since. When reeling off the lists of District 1’s top scorers, Bennett is a must inclusion.
“That started it,” PW coach Jim Donofrio said of Bennett’s breakout outing as a freshman. “Sophomore year there were some learning curves, but guys who can score, score and Q was a natural scorer out and in.
“Now, he’s got that look in his eye. He’s a veteran guy. He knows a lot of this is his confidence. Last year, not thrilled with ourselves. Realize how good you are man and he knows it. That goes a long way. He’s a talented guy. He’s got a green light to shoot 28-footers. Come out and cover that.”
Plymouth Whitemarsh's Qudire Bennett is closing in on the 1,000-point mark. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Bennett’s mother told him the first thing he picked up as a kid was a basketball. Whether it was trash cans or recycle bins, he always tried to put the ball into some form of ‘hoop’.
From an early age, he realized basketball could keep him from getting into some of the trouble he saw some of his peers get into. That’s driven him daily throughout his career.
“I’ve had a passion for the game ever since I picked up a ball and continued that,” Bennett said.
“Basketball was the path I wanted to take. It made me want to keep going and going every single day no matter what every single day.”
Bennett, a stocky 6-4 wing, doesn’t have a lot of fluff to his game. He just puts the ball in the basket. He’s what some would describe as a walking bucket.
He has a lethal shooting stroke that extends several feet beyond the 3-point arc and while he won’t break any ankles, Bennett finds different ways to score in the lane. He recently put up 28 in a win over Salesianum (Del.), doing plenty of damage beyond the arc (four threes) but also using his frame to carve out space on the drive and touch to finish in the midrange or near the basket. He followed that up with another 22 in a loss to West Chester East two days later.
“I think what stands out about me and my game is I’m humble,” Bennett said. “I don’t like putting myself out there like that, but I’m a really humble type of player and my game really shows as you saw. I don’t do any of those crazy behind the back dribble moves to get past the defender. One move and go. If you don’t have it, pass it out. That’s how I play. Just put the ball in the hoop no matter who’s in front of me.”
While he consistently produces, Bennett’s college interest is lukewarm. West Chester, Del-Val, Albright and Arcadia are among the schools who have reached out to him and Donofrio thinks several others should be getting in line.
“Not enough, but we’ll take care of that before it’s all said and over,” Donofrio said. “I’m confident in that. It comes along. … College guys all look for their style or athlete. Sometimes you just overlook that the point of the game is to put the ball in the basket.
“I’ve seen guys who are a little bit undersized for what they consider their position and stuff like that, scoring is scoring and there aren’t that many guys doing it. 28 points is 28 points … Shooting the ball from 26, 27 feet with confidence. Not everyone is doing that. That’s a gift. There’s always somebody he can cover on the court.”
What makes Donofrio confident in Bennett’s ability to translate his production to the next level is his work ethic and drive. He doesn’t foresee that fire burning out any time soon.
“He’s a very humble guy. He loves the game. He works hard at the game,” Donofrio said. “He’s got a high passion for the game. There’s a lot of guys who get into college and that doesn’t maintain. Certain guys are gifts. They’re only going to get better.
“You have to know the guys who are in love with the game. He’s going to get the most he can out of his whole career. I don’t care whatever it is next year. As long as he maintains that, it’s going to be even better for him two, three years from now.”
Of course there’s plenty for Bennett still to accomplish before he continues his career at the next level. He’s closing in on 1,000 career points. He enters the new year 69 points shy of the milestone.
Despite being a marked man, the first team All-SOL Liberty Division guard has found ways to expand his game and continue to torch opposing defenses.
“For me being a four-year veteran on varsity, I realized players will contest my shot,” Bennett said. “If they’re closing out, use the pump fake, get by and get to the midrange or layup as you saw in the game. I could have shot a lot of threes, but when they didn’t drop, I was taking advantage of the lane. When they don’t close out, I’m shooting it.”
Bennett has plenty of talented scorers around him like junior guards Jaden Colzie and Chase Coleman to help ease the burden as well.
The Colonials made a run to the District 1-6A quarters as the No. 22 seed last season and booked a trip to the state playoffs for the first time since 2018. Bennett is hoping to surpass that in his senior season and bring one of District 1’s traditional powers back to prominence.
“When I first came here, I knew what it meant to wear that PW brand but I didn’t know the meaning behind it,” Bennett said. “As I got older and experienced, I was like, ‘This means a lot. We gotta come out.’ And this year is the year for us to show what PW really is.”