A seven-footer from Henninger High School in Syracuse, N.Y., Ben Cronin was the first player to commit to the University of Michigan men's basketball program after the hiring of head coach John Beilein. Cronin verbally committed to the Maize and Blue on May 16, 2007; just 43 days after Beilein took the reins of the Michigan program.
In three seasons of varsity basketball at Henninger, Cronin started 70 straight games and averaged 12.6 points, 11.7 rebounds and an astonishing 7.2 blocks per game. His 506 career blocks shattered Henninger's previous record of 290, held by Andray Blatche of the Washington Wizards.
Cronin, who was homeschooled and did not play organized basketball until his freshman year of high school, came into his own offensively during his senior year as he averaged 19.1 points and 15.2 rebounds per game, while leading Henninger to a 21-3 record and a final AA state ranking of sixth.
With a 7-foot-5 wing span and size 17 shoes, Cronin will be an immense physical presence on the Michigan front line. He will also be the first seven-footer to don the Maize and Blue in seven seasons (Josh Moore, 2000-01).
In the first of a three-part question-and-answer series with the freshmen on the Michigan men's basketball team, MGoBlue.com sits down with Ben Cronin to learn a little more about the Wolverines' newest post player.
Meet Ben Cronin ...
Choosing Michigan: When it came down to staying home or coming here, I decided that Michigan was the best fit for me with my style of play and what Coach Beilein and his staff can do for me. I think Coach Beilein is a great coach and Ann Arbor is an awesome place. Everything about Michigan was what I was looking for.
What he is looking forward to: Just getting better, working as hard as I can and seeing how much I improve and just playing with this team.
The summer: We've been here for over a month and we've been doing conditioning and weight work. We've been playing with the team during open gyms, getting to know each other pretty well and working hard together. We are getting better already so it's been great this summer. We've been together for over a month now, and it will be six weeks by the time we leave, and everything has been great so far.
Working on this summer: Nothing specific at all. I've been working on everything I can, every part of my game, trying to improve.
Goals for the upcoming season: Just getting better. As a freshman I think that I can improve upon everything. I've got a lot of goals so I need to improve to meet them.
Number: My number is going to be 35. There is no significance to it. In high school I was 33 but Cazzie Russell took that, so there is no way I'm getting that one. But I had no reason for picking 35.
Favorite moments in basketball career: Playing with my high school team and winning sectionals, and getting player of the year. Those have probably been the biggest highlights so far.
Describing his game: There are a couple players I'd like to pattern my game after, like Tim Duncan or some of the other great bigs. I think I'm a strong big man down low, I'm a great shot blocker and I think I have a nice touch as well. I think I'm just a solid, all-around big man. There is definitely plenty of work that I need to do, but with hard work and the coaching of Coach Beilein I think I'll be a well-equipped big man by the time I leave here.
Other sports played growing up: I played hockey until I was in eighth grade. That's when I picked up playing basketball but my first real year of basketball was my freshman year of high school. I was a defenseman and I'm a big hockey fan so I'm going to try to make as many hockey games as I can this year. I also played golf my senior year of high school.
Other interests (other than basketball): I play a lot of golf. Other than that, I go to church every Sunday morning andthat's about it.
Dream job (not including playing basketball): Coaching basketball.
Favorite food: I like a lot of Italian food. I don't necessarily have a favorite but anything mom cooks at home. She makes a lot of Italian stuff, so I like that.
Favorite subject: Health, English or anything to do with education.
Favorite color: Maize and Blue.
Favorite television show: SportsCenter, I'm not real big with TV but I watch ESPN every day.
Most recent movie he has seen and his opinion of it: Drillbit Taylor. It's a new release comedy and it was pretty funny. Owen Wilson is in it. It was a good movie.
Favorite place he has visited and a place he would like to visit: Favorite place I've been would be Bermuda. I'm Irish, so it's my dream to one day go to Ireland.
Favorite musical artist: Dave Matthews Band.
Pregame superstitions: None, just a pregame prayer.
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