By Scott Wiley
Lakeland Christian Academy
Former IU great and NBA player Kent Benson is coming to Warsaw tomorrow to be the keynote speaker at the Big Brothers Big Sisters Banquet. Since retiring from the NBA, Kent as done numerous things and is a inspirational speaker.
My first job out of college was with the Detroit Pistons NBA basketball team. Since I knew Kent from when I worked in the front office when he played there, I asked him if he would speak at Lakeland that afternoon and he graciously agreed.
Benson, who was born and raised in New Castle, played for IU Coach Bobby Knight from 1973-77.
He was part of the driving force that led IU to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship during the 1975-76 season. The team was undefeated throughout the entire regular and postseason that year, the last team to accomplish the feat in Division I Men’s Basketball.
Benson attended New Castle High School and won numerous awards and honors during his high school basketball career and was named 1973 Indiana Mr. Basketball. That same year he was also named Fellowship of Christian Athletes High School Athlete of the Year. He is the third leading rebounder in Indiana high school basketball history.
Benson is the eighth all-time leading scorer in IU history with 1,740 points and he is one of only three players in IU history to grab 1,000 or more rebounds.
He was named 1976 NCAA Most Outstanding Player and 1976 National Fellowship of Christian Athletes College Athlete of the Year.
He was also named 1977 Indiana University and Big Ten Most Valuable Player.
Benson was the number one pick of the 1977 NBA draft and was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks. He played 11 seasons in the NBA with Milwaukee, Detroit, Utah and two games for Cleveland in February 1988. He wore jersey number 54 his entire career.
Benson continues to garner accolades for his basketball prowess. He was inducted into the Indiana University Athletes Hall of Fame in 1989. In 1999 he was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame and named one of the 50 Greatest All-Time Indiana Basketball Players.
He was named to Street and Smith’s 100 Greatest College Basketball Players of all time in 2004, the same year the 1976 IU team was named to the 10 Greatest College Basketball Teams of All Times.
Lakeland Christian Academy will host a special assembly at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 4 in our cafetorium where Benson will speak. The community is invited to attend.