This is the point in her high school career where Jenna Benzinger should be worrying about which college she wants to attend.
On Friday night, Benzinger made that daunting task easy when she announced her verbal commitment to play basketball at Brown University as part of the 2017 recruiting class.
Benzinger, a junior at Mount Greylock, made the announcement on her Twitter account after making her verbal commitment over the phone to Brown coach Sarah Behn.
"It was definitely really exciting and kind of surreal," Benzinger said in a phone interview with The Eagle on Saturday. "It still doesn't feel real that I'm going to an Ivy League school and doing my dream of playing Division I basketball."
Benzinger now has the next year to focus on what Behn and the Bears want from the 6-foot-3 center — play basketball.
"It takes a big weight off my shoulders," Benzinger said. "Now, all my friends are starting the college process and I'm already done with it. I'm still going to play in the [AAU] tournaments to get my hands on the ball, but I get to enjoy my summer a little bit more."
The announcement caps off what was a stellar junior season for Benzinger. After taking a big step forward in her progression last summer with the Albany Lady Stars, where Behn first started recruiting her, Benzinger averaged 15 points per game this season for Mount Greylock and led the Mounties to the Western Mass. Division III semifinals. With another summer on the AAU circuit upcoming plus her senior campaign with the Mounties, Benzinger said her focus now is on getting better and better as a player.
"I'm ready to get back on the AAU court and just get a touch on the ball," Benzinger said. "I'm planning on getting up a lot of shots in the offseason, keep my game up and condition myself."
The decision to go to Brown isn't just a basketball one, though. With the chance to get an Ivy League education, Benzinger is just as thrilled that she will be able to pursue her other dream and study in the theater program.
"It was definitely a deciding factor," Benzinger said of the theater program at Brown. "I'm planning on studying theater in college and I'm really passionate about that, too. The theater department there is great."
Jenna's announcement now makes her the second Benzinger in two years to make a verbal commitment. Her older brother, Jake, was a red-shirt freshman this year for the Wake Forest football team.
"It's very special, living in the Berkshires where we're a very small community and Greylock is a very small school," Benzinger said. "To be able to go to the next level and play in college, we have this bond with sports and he understands me when I talk about recruiting and everything.
"It's different. He's all busy with his spring training and I'm all busy with my basketball, but it's something that we share."
Contact Geoff Smith at 413-496-6254.