When the Wichita State University Shockers took the court in this year’s NIT, Terry Benton cheered them on, no doubt reminiscing about his days on the basketball team. Once a Shocker, always a Shocker, he says.
And what a Shocker he was. Currently the manager of SCU’s LINC-TV services, 40 years ago as a center/forward for the team, Benton set WSU rebounding records—four of which still stand: most rebounds in a single game (29); best all-time career rebounding average (12.7); highest average rebounds per game (16.8); and most recent triple-double (20 points, 22 rebounds, 10 assists against Tulsa in ’72.
He responds humbly when asked about his record-setting days as a Shocker. “I’m pleased somebody sill remembers. Forty years is a long time ago,” he says. “It was a privilege, not a right, to go to college, to play team sports. I think too many gifted—and less gifted—athletes forget that sometimes.”
Benton set those records in a three-year period, 1969–72. At the time, freshmen were ineligible to play “with the big boys.” With no shot clock and several excellent shooters on his squad, rebounding became his forte. “They didn’t pass the ball very much, so I figured if I’m going to get the ball, I better go get it myself,” he laughs.
But he wasn’t focused on setting records. “I never really thought of numbers, because for two years, we weren’t very good. We didn’t win very much. I don’t care what anyone says—if you get 20 points, you get 20 rebounds, and you still lose; that may be OK to read about in the paper, but your buddies will still say, ‘You guys lost last night,’” he says.
After college, the basketball star was chosen to play with the Detroit Pistons in the NBA draft, with Kentucky Colonels in the ABA draft, and with the Harlem Globetrotters. He turned them all down to play in Varese, Italy. “I had a great year. I was leading the league in rebounding and scoring well. Then I popped my Achilles’ tendon. It was career over. Game over,” he says.
With his degree in broadcast journalism, he worked in radio and television for several years before moving into information technology as a general communications contractor. In addition to owning TBI West Coast, he has been managing SCU’s cable services for 16 years. “Best move I ever made,” he says.
Even in his IT career, though, Benton still taps into lessons learned in basketball: Bloom where you’re planted. Share. Don’t be selfish. Be a team player. “Basketball teaches you that you have to have a team to move forward, to be successful,” he says. “No matter how good you are, you can’t beat five guys by yourself.”