YOUNGSTOWN – Four years ago Indiya Benjamin left Lima Senior as its career leader in points scored and assists in girls basketball.
At the end of her career at Youngstown State University, she also is leaving behind a multi-dimensional basketball legacy.
The 5-foot, 6-inch point guard ended her senior season Monday in the Horizon League tournament as the Penguins’ career assist leader. She broke the YSU career three-point record this season and her 1,280 points ranks her No. 13 on the school’s career scoring list.
When Benjamin arrived at Youngstown State as a first-team Division I All-Ohio player, she studied the career records. One of the first lines her eyes were drawn to was the assist record.
“It was amazing to get the assists record. I’ve got the assist record at Lima Senior so it just carried on to college. I remember coming in my freshman year and seeing all the record holders. When I came to assists I knew from then on that was who I was chasing after,” she said.
Benjamin, a four-year starter, led the Horizon League in assists the last three seasons.
She averaged 9.9 points and 5.3 assists this season and hit 46 three-pointers. Last year, she averaged 11.6 points and 5.6 assists. She scored 9.9 points and handed out 5.0 assists as a sophomore and as a freshman her averages were 9.0 and 3.6.
“I wanted to get my teammates involved and I’m an unselfish player so it really wasn’t that hard to do. I’ve got great shooters on my team,” she said about the assist record.
Benjamin, who scored 1,618 points in her Lima Senior career, has also contributed in the scoring column throughout her career.
“Coach (John) Barnes, coming in my freshman year, gave me the green light to shoot the ball too. I’m a pass first point guard but he has allowed me to score and allowed me to do my thing on that end too,” Benjamin said. I’m fortunate to have a coach who allows me to just go out there and play my game.”
Earlier this year Barnes said, “Indiya has been a great leader for us.” And it is in that area that possibly the biggest change has come in college, Benjamin said.
“In high school you have to have leadership but it’s not as much as in college. It’s a whole different ball game. The games are louder, everybody on your team is really, really good. They were the best player on their high school team.
“To be able to lead them, to be like a coach on the court, being that voice in practice getting everybody going, making sure you lead by example when you’re running drills, on and off the court, in the class room, it’s a whole different ball game. I’ve been able to improve in that area,” she said.
While Youngstown State, as a “mid-major” does not get the television exposure of bigger schools, the Penguins do have one famous fan at many of their games – YSU president and former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel.
“Oh yes, he comes and stays at the games. He knows people individually. He’ll come up to you and have a whole conversation with you. He’s a very good guy. He comes to our games often,” Benjamin said.
Benjamin, a nursing major, will return to Youngstown State next year to finish her degree.