Villanova sophomore Bilal Benn, a Cardinal Dougherty product, will transfer to Niagara at the end of the spring semester.

Benn, who graduated from Hargrave Military Academy, did not see much action off the bench in his two years at Villanova. He was replaced as the seventh man last season by guard Reggie Redding.

The Wildcats have a standout guard in Scottie Reynolds, and three talented guards are in next season's freshman class, so it did not appear that Benn's playing time would increase.

He will sit out next season under NCAA transfer rules.

"We are sad to have Bilal leave our team, but we are happy for him that he will be joining [coach] Joe Mihalich at Niagara University," Villanova coach Jay Wright said in a statement released last night. "He will always be a part of our Villanova family."

Wright added that Benn was in good academic standing with Villanova and that the decision was the player's.

Benn will join a Niagara team that made the NCAA tournament last season after winning the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Niagara beat Florida A&M in the play-in game before falling to top-seeded Kansas in the first round.

The Purple Eagles have connections to this area, including their coach, a longtime assistant coach at La Salle, his alma mater.

Senior Charron Fisher is from Philadelphia's Roman Catholic High, and freshman Tyrone Lewis graduated from Harry S Truman High in Levittown.

As a freshman at 'Nova, Benn saw action in 20 games. Last season, he averaged 1.9 points and 1.5 assists in 28 games.

Contact staff writer Shannon Ryan at 215-854-5503 or sryan@phillynews.com.