Kent State made history recently by signing the first student-athlete with autism, Kalin Bennett.
The 6’10 center reportedly will be the first autistic athlete to sign a national letter of intent to play NCAA Division I basketball, per The Cleveland Plan Dealer. According to 247Sports, Kent State was the only program to offer Kalin Bennet a scholarship to play basketball, although other programs were in the mix. A decision that proved to be the right fit for both Bennett and the team.
“He wanted to come to Kent,” Kent State coach Rob Senderoff told The Cleveland Plan Dealer of Bennett. “Listen, not everyone would recruit him. That’s understandable. But this is a fit for everybody.”
I want to use this platform to inspire.” Kent State recruit Kalin Bennett just became the first hooper with autism to earn a D1 scholarship. Respect. 🙏🏽 (via @AthleteSwag) https://t.co/f1aD2QZj2o
This signing only was an important moment for Bennett, it also gave him the platform to inspire others.
“I want to make an impact not just on the court, but with kids that are struggling with the same things I am.” he said. “I want to use this platform to inspire other kids with autism and non-autism. I want to let them know, hey, if I can do this, you can do it, too. A lot of times they feel alone and by themselves, and I felt that same way growing up.”
Kalin Bennett will enroll in college next summer and play under Senderoff for the season.