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Ben Strong muscles his way into the spotlight

As the Guilford basketball team enters the gym, their opponents’ eyes scan the team, looking for a weakness. Then their eyes shift and they look up at 6 feet and 10 inches of forward Ben Strong. Teams have a reason to fear Strong. He is the second athlete since 1991 from Guilford to receive the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Player of the Week award twice in one season. The only other was first-year quarterback Josh Vogelbach, who went on to receive the conference’s Freshman of the Year award. Strong is the first to receive Guilford’s Athlete of the Week award.

“Ben has the potential to be one of the best players in the league,” said Tom Palombo, Head Coach of men’s basketball. “His ability to play on the perimeter and in the post gives him tremendous versatility in his game.”

Strong’s latest recognition came after leading the Quakers to three wins in the week ending Jan 15. Strong averaged 21 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots in the three wins, and he helped Guilford end their seven-game losing streak.

Strong scored 30 points in the Quakers’ last home game, 20 of which came in the second half to help guide his team to a 109-106 comeback victory over Emory and Henry. He is currently second in the conference for field-goal percentage, completing 62 percent of his shots.

Strong’s scoring ability isn’t all that teams need to worry about. He leads the conference in blocked shots, averaging 2.06 per game, and is atop the Quaker statistics list in rebounding, averaging 5.3 per game.

Aside from his statistics, Strong’s size and presence on the court are weapons as well.

“With his size, he draws defenders and creates a lot of shots for other people,” said Palombo. “I think he makes everyone around him better.”

Teammate Jordan Snipes, a junior, enjoys having Strong by his side. “It’s good to know that a six-ten giant is always behind you to block a shot,” said Snipes.

Point guard and childhood friend Caleb Kimbrough also enjoys competing with Strong rather than against him.

“Ben is an unstoppable player,” said Kimbrough.

This is a mutual feeling between Strong and Kimbrough. When asked why he chose Guilford, Strong attributes his decision largely on the fact that Kimbrough was also attending.

“I’ve known Caleb since sixth grade,” said Strong. “After our success in high school, the prospect of playing with him in college was too much to pass up.”

Originally from Manassas, Va., Strong grew up in Chapel Hill, N.C. He was an All-State player and received the Piedmont Athletic Conference Player of the Year award his senior year.

Currently tied for third in the conference, the Quakers have some of their toughest games still to come. They face Virginia Wesleyan at home on Sat., Jan. 28, and Randolph-Macon at home on Sun., Jan. 29. Those are the top teams in the conference and are both nationally ranked.

“We definitely have the talent to beat anyone in the league,” said Strong. “Jordan Snipes can take a game over if he wants; what we need is to all come out and show up to play at the same time.

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