His father is Todd Benzinger, former Cincinnati Red and coach of the Dayton Dragons. So Grant Benzinger is all about baseball, right?
Wrong. He’s all about hoops.
The younger Benzinger, a basketball star at Archbishop Moeller High School in Cincinnati, will play basketball for Wright State University this season. He moved his things to campus even before commencement at Moeller, is taking summer classes and has helped out at coach Billy Donlon’s basketball camp.
The freshman has yet to declare a major, but thinks he wants to study business, probably management. And he hopes to play as a shooting guard on the basketball team.
Benzinger grew up in the Cincinnati suburb of Loveland, and sports were his passion as far back as he can remember.
“Every day we were playing a different sport in my backyard with my neighbors and my dad, just playing,” he recalled.
Benzinger’s father, Todd, played baseball in the major leagues from 1987 to 1995, most notably as a first baseman and outfielder for the Reds. He was a member of the team when it swept the favored Oakland A’s in four games to win the 1990 World Series, catching the final out in the ninth inning of Game 4.
From 2006 to 2008, Benzinger coached the girls’ basketball team at Loveland High School and then managed the Dayton Dragons for the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
As a result, the younger Benzinger had special access to the Dragons’ locker room.
“There were a lot of words I had never heard before,” Benzinger said with a smile. “A lot of slang.”
Benzinger gave up playing organized baseball in the sixth grade and later began accompanying his father when he coached girls basketball.
“He wasn’t pushing basketball on me, but I spent so much time in the gym that it became the main sport,” he said.
At Moeller High School, Benzinger played basketball all four years. The private, all-male school has gained a national reputation for athletic excellence.
“Moeller’s big thing is if you’re going to do something, you’re going to put your all into it,” Benzinger said. “They really instilled that in me.”
He and his teammates practiced nearly every day, both before and after classes. And they tried to master the mental part of the game.
“Every day before practice, we watched film and tried to improve our basketball IQ,” he said. “It was all about seeing the play before it happens; slowing the game down; just being calm and relaxed all the time.”
In his senior year, Benzinger helped lead the top-ranked Crusaders to the Ohio Division I regional finals, where they lost a 62-61 stunner to Trotwood-Madison despite being up 15 points with four minutes to play.
“They hit some big shots,” said Benzinger, who still feels the sting of that defeat.
But now, his eye is on the future, which looks bright. And Wright State appears to be a good fit for Benzinger.
“When I came to Wright State, I clicked with all the people here, especially the team and the coaches,” he said. “I really liked that it was close to home, and the campus had a great feel to it.”