There may be no better recent example of the needless malice of the NCAA than Ben Stanley. Stanley left his initial college home of Hampton looking for better basketball opportunities but, more importantly to him, a place where he could learn in person. Stanley believed that, due to struggles he has learning, in person learning was vital to his success. Ben didn’t just verbalize this a couple of times, he wrote the NCAA a letter explaining it. The search for in person learning in his major landed him at Xavier. The NCAA, true to form, waited until the eleventh hour and then denied his request for immediate eligibility. That lead to a legendary tweet, but Ben was still out of luck.
Fake uncle has a fake illness.— Mario Mercurio (@MarioMercurio) November 20, 2020
Last coach was mean.
Have a learning disability and want to put yourself in a better position academically.
❌ Denied https://t.co/YJ2QQ7VAVV
In December, the NCAA finally decided to #LetBenBall. Along with everyone else still waiting for a waiver, Stanley was allowed to take the court starting on December 16th. It wasn’t the specific justice he deserved, but it’s hard to imagine that Ben was in a quibbling mood at that point. After an absurdly long wait, Ben Stanley could finally take the court for Xavier.
Unfortunately, Ben’s season wasn’t very long. Stanley appeared in just four games for Xavier. The first of those, against Marquette, he played only six minutes and made little impact. The final appearance was cut short after just eight minutes by his season ending knee injury. In the games in between, though, Ben shone.
In 25 combined minutes against Creighton and Seton Hall, Stanley posted a line of 21/1/1 on 9-15 shooting and 3-4 from the line. (Ben followed that up with four boards in eight minutes against St. John’s, so he can get to the glass.) His energy and willingness to attack were vital for a team that could, at times, go stagnant on the offensive end. Indeed, Xavier’s offense sputtered in both of those games with no other player having an offensive efficiency above 100 in both of them.
There is no question that Ben fit in well with the Musketeers program. Early in the season he was a staple on social media with a variety of cheering, cajoling, complaining to officials, and general noise making in lieu of a crowd. There is some joy in being a fan and watching someone who is on the team act like just as much of a fan. It’s not hard to imagine Ben Stanley in the student section, throwing paper and jumping up and down do every bucket. That he did that (sans jumping) when he was relegated to the bench speaks volumes about him as a person.
Ben added value to the team whether he was on the court or off it last season. He’ll add a great deal more when he can suit up all season. As a fan, I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do. As just a human being in general, I hope for him that his decision to move to Xavier pays off in the classroom as well. Ben Stanley is one of the good guys.