In his fourth year as a student-athlete, redshirt junior forward Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk has taken pride in prioritizing the “student” in student-athlete throughout his collegiate career.
He's entering this season both as a newcomer to the men’s basketball team and a student at the University of South Carolina School of Law.
“It’s a commitment. I think just being a student-athlete is hard,” Bosmans-Verdonk said. “Don’t get me wrong, every school does such a great job with their athletes to make it doable for us, but it’s not easy.”
Bosmans-Verdonk played basketball, handball, soccer and swimming competitively while growing up in Belgium, but he said school was always his main priority.
“The way I was brought up, school was always very important,” Bosmans-Verdonk said. “I had to tell my mom, my dad that I was going to take care of my school business, or else they would’ve never let me come to the States.”
He studied psychology at the University of Illinois and said he did not consider going to law school until he was granted extra years of eligibility due to COVID-19 and previous injuries at Illinois.
“It was only when I figured out that 'look I got this extra eligibility because of my injuries, because of COVID, and I’m on track to graduate early, there’s going to be some opportunity there to further my academic career,' and I wanted to take full advantage of that,” Bosmans-Verdonk said.
After earning his undergraduate degree in just three years, Bosmans-Verdonk looked to continue his studies at a school that allowed him to pursue success on the basketball court and a career in law.
“When it was my time last summer to enter the portal ... one of the priorities for me was finding a coaching staff that would be willing to work with me and be lenient in that way — allowing me to do both,” Bosmans-Verdonk said.
He said positive visits with men's basketball head coach Lamont Paris and the dean of the School of Law, William Hubbard, were motivating factors in his decision to come to South Carolina.
“As soon as I took my visit, Coach Paris took me to the law building, and I had a great visit there. The dean of the law school is amazing, and it’s like both sides are very willing to allow me to do this, so super greatful to be able to be in this position,” Bosmans-Verdonk said. “Both things have to be perfect, and I think I was so lucky to be able to find it.”
Bosmans-Verdonk has adjusted well to life in Columbia after spending his first few months getting to know his teammates and expressed optimism for the new season.
“As soon as we got here, we kind of started building (chemistry), and I think everyone’s found their way here off the court, and I think that allows us to even be better on the court,” Bosmans-Verdonk said. “I think the team’s looking very good. We got some experienced guys, we got hungry guys … but we got a good mix.”
Assistant coach Tim Buckley said he was impressed with Bosman-Verdonk’s intelligence and outgoing personality.
“It’s really hard for me to talk with him or relate to him because he’s so much smarter than I am," Buckley said. "What an engaging personality, really sharp guy, very introspective. He thinks things through. He’s great to talk with outside of basketball.”
The two frequently have conversations about Belgium, Bosmans-Verdonk’s family and his experiences at Illinois, where he was coached by one of Buckley’s colleagues from the latter's time at Ball State, Buckley said.
Assistant coach Tanner Bronson marveled at Bosmans-Verdonk’s ability to excel in the classroom, as well as on the court, and recognized his unique status as a law student playing college basketball.
“He’s a really mature kid. He’s really focused. He’s a guy that’s in the gym all the time,” Bronson said. “He’s a law student here ... it just shows how serious he is in every aspect of his life.”
Editor's note: Jacob Phillips contributed to the reporting in this article.