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Briles Signs to Play College Basketball at SWIC

By Todd Marver

Nashville High School senior Bennett Briles will be playing college basketball at an NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) Division I school in Belleville next school year.

Briles signed to play at Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC) on Friday, April 28. He will study accounting at SWIC.

Briles said it has always been a goal of his to play college basketball and he can’t remember when he didn’t want to play college basketball.

SWIC’s head men’s basketball coach is Jay Harrington, and Harrington’s assistant coaches are Norm Toenjes, Bo Burkhart, Marcus Lawrence and Steve Campo.

Photo by Todd Marver

“I just really enjoyed the coaches there. They have great coaches,” Briles said.

The SWIC men’s basketball roster includes freshman Saxton Hoepker of Nashville.

“I already know a lot of the players, so I just think I’ll fit in great there,” Briles said.

As far as the transition from high school to college basketball, Briles said he’s sure it’s going to be tough and college basketball is a lot more physical.

Briles said that winning the Nashville Invitational Tournament (NIT) in January was definitely his favorite memory from playing basketball at NCHS. The Hornets went 3-0 in the NIT. NCHS defeated KIPP 56-40 on Jan. 16, Mascoutah 52-38 on Jan. 20 and Central Community High School of Breese 44-38 on Jan. 21. The Hornets finished the season with a 20-12 record under first-year NCHS head coach Stote Reeder.

“(The NIT) was right in the middle of a losing streak and that helped our season,” Briles said.

Briles said he loves playing basketball with his friends. He said it has always been really competitive and that’s one of his favorite things about it.

“Especially playing well. It has always gotten better,” he said.

According to, Briles led the Hornets in several statistical categories this season at 16.3 points per game, 6.5 rebounds per game, 1.9 blocks per game, 73% free throw percentage and 37% three-point field goal percentage. This season, Briles was named Illinois Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA) third team all-state, Associated Press (AP) honorable mention all-state, Southern Illinois River to River Mississippi all-conference and Southern Illinois Coaches Association (SICA) All-South.

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