As the Wofford Terriers ran out on the court to warm up for the season opener against the University of North Carolina Tarheels, junior Ben Bryson couldn’t help but imagine himself out there with them.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play college basketball, but with everything being so close, it felt unreal to me,” Bryson said. “I was thinking, ‘Man, that could be me in a couple of years.’”
Just a few weeks prior, Kevin Gilter, assistant basketball coach at Wofford, extended to Ben an invitation to the highly anticipated matchup against the Tarheels.
“I had just gotten home from a pretty tiring practice, and as I was walking inside, I felt my phone vibrate. I looked and saw it was Coach Giltner from Wofford calling me,” Bryson said. “He told me he had two tickets for my dad and me, and really wanted me to experience what a sold-out college basketball game was like.”
The unexpected news left Bryson speechless at the thought of not only meeting the players and coaching staff for the Terriers, but also getting to see his favorite college basketball team, the Tarheels, play for the first time.
“It was really crazy. I didn’t know what to say,” Bryson said. “He told me they were pretty interested in me and wanted to get me down to a game soon, but I had no idea it was going to be the UNC game.”
Bryson, going into his junior season, has been a two year starter on varsity, and so far has 26 NCAA Division I scholarship offers, but he feels that another offer may soon come from Wofford.
“They told me they had a lot of interest in me, and that I was one of their top recruits right now. They also said that they’d be at a lot of my practices and games this year,” Bryson said. “They normally wouldn’t offer a scholarship to a junior, but I feel like with them showing so much interest so early, an offer is bound to come eventually.”
Although he already has numerous Division I offers, he has a lot of work left to do, and Bryson feels he has a lot riding on his junior season.
“It’s every kid’s dream to play Division I basketball and, as of right now, I’ve accomplished that,” Bryson said. “Even though I’ve gotten these offers already, I still have two more years of high school ball left to play. I don’t want to have to settle for a college. I want to continue to grow and hopefully receive some offers from bigger schools.”
Wofford is by no means a large university with a student population of around 1,600 students. However, according to Bryson, there are benefits and drawbacks to such small amount of students.
“My favorite part of the visit was just the atmosphere down there. The coaching staff was so friendly and it really felt like a big family, almost like a high school team,” Bryson said. “Even though everyone was super friendly, I’m not sure that I want my college experience to be at such a small school.”
According to Bryson, his motivation comes from his father, Joey Bryson, the Falcons’ head basketball coach and former Western Carolina University basketball player.
“Growing up, my dad always told me that one percent of all high school basketball players will play Division I basketball. Being part of that one percent has always been something I’ve worked for,” Bryson said. “Not to mention, my dad played college basketball, and passing his legacy is really important to me.”
By: Cole Braswell, Sports Editor