Benton’s Bino sets his sights on national camp

Benton’s Bino Stephens was invited to the Junior Phenom Camp to be held in San Diego next month. Special to The Saline Courier
By: 
Tony Lenahan
Sports Editor

Benton eighth-grader-to-be Bino Stephens has been asked to participate in a prestigious camp in the upcoming month as he was invited to the Junior Phenom Camp beginning on July 26 in San Diego.
“He’s got the opportunity to go to the Junior Phenom Camp,” Bino’s father, Tee Stephens, said, “which is the national camp that has 150 of the top colleges in the nation and also has the top 50 players in the nation in his age bracket. Him being invited to go opens up the opportunity for Saline County, as well as central Arkansas, because the nearest regional one is in St. Louis. By him finishing, doing well and representing Saline County will help bring the regional camp here.
“He’ll be representing, not just for Saline County, but for Arkansas and this region.”
Bino, 13, is a point guard who plays for Salt County Elite, was invited by Daryl Harrison, the national camp operations director for Phenom America, celebrating its 15-year anniversary.
“It means a lot because my dream is to go to the NBA,” Bino said of his invitation.
According to Phenom America, its mission is to provide quality basketball instruction and education to as many junior athletes and athletic families as possible, and to provide quality education and guidance to coaches, players and parents.
Bino claims the Boston Celtics as his favorite team and Kyree Irving as his favorite player as the Phenom Camp has had 133 NBA players, 46 WNBA players and almost 2,600 Division I college players, according to the website.
“The alumni on it is very strong,” Tee Stephens said. “It’s a really prestigious camp. When you go, you’ve got to bring it. You’re getting thrown in the waters and you have to be prepared for whatever, because it’s the top 150 in the nation. It’s the real deal.”
Bino lists his strengths as handling, shooting and protecting the ball, as well as being a good defensive player. Benton Panthers varsity Coach Dexter Hendrix agrees, adding Bino’s basketball IQ is advanced for his age.
“He’s definitely ahead of the game, as far as basketball IQ and skill level,” Hendrix said. “He’s one who we think will be a tremendous point guard one day in our program.
“He shoots the ball at a high level and handles the ball at a high level for his age, but what really separates him is his high basketball IQ at the point guard position, just understanding the game, terminology, and I think that comes from all the experience and reps he’s had at a young age already. Obviously he has a lot of room to improve and grow, but being at his age, he’s one I’m very excited about.”
First-year Benton Junior High Coach Mitch Scoggins was impressed by Bino, despite his limited time around the future Jr. Panther.
“First of all, he’s a great kid, has a great family and just in my little amount of time I’ve had to coach him so far, he’s been very coachable and great to work with,” Scoggins said. “He’s definitely a very skilled basketball player and has a bright future if he continues to work at it.
“I know this camp he’s planning on going to next month is a good camp and I expect him to have great success. I’m looking forward to coaching him this year and watch him grow even more as a player and young man.”
But being such an elite camp, the camp also comes with an elite cost. Donations are appreciated at www.gofundme.com/bino-to-junior-phenom-camp.

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