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Man in white jersey with garnet South Carolina lettering reads blue textbook in empty basketball arena

From the court to the courtroom

Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk balances basketball, law school

The buzzer sounded, cementing South Carolina men’s basketball 79-62 win over Kentucky, and Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk found himself in the middle of the court storming.

The power forward beamed ear-to-ear, soaking in a monumental moment of his college basketball career. But he knew his night wasn’t over; he still had homework to finish up before celebrating later with his teammates. He also had to get up early the next day for work and class.

As one of only a handful of Division I men’s basketball players ever to compete while also going to law school, Bosmans-Verdonk wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Sometimes I feel like Hannah Montana. It’s like the best of both worlds," Bosmans-Verdonk says, referencing Montana's song "Best of Both Worlds" about living a double life as a pop star and a regular teenager.

The road less traveled

When Bosmans-Verdonk began his career at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, he had no plans to go to law school. But when he entered the transfer portal, Bosmans-Verdonk wanted to maximize his remaining years of eligibility.

So, he began scouting law schools. When the University of South Carolina recruited him for basketball, Bosmans-Verdonk sat down with dean William Hubbard at the Joseph F. Rice School of Law. Hubbard’s message to Bosmans-Verdonk was simple: If he could get in, he would get his shot.

“He could have reacted like, ‘Oh, who is this guy who thinks he can just come into my school and thinks he can just easily come in and play a sport?’” Bosmans-Verdonk says. “But he wasn’t like that at all. He was very encouraging, honestly — very supportive. And it’s been like that with everybody in this building.”

Bosmans-Verdonk has always had an interest in the legal side of business, and that was what drew him to attend law school. That interest has only grown, as law school opened his eyes to “how the world operates,” he says.

“Since I started law school, it's been kind of a journey of figuring out what I want to do. I still didn't reach my destination yet of totally figuring it out,” Bosmans-Verdonk says. “There are so many things and there are so many doors that are constantly are being opened right now that I didn't even know existed.”

Bosmans-Verdonk is just one of three known students who’ve played Division I men’s basketball while also pursuing a law degree. Seton Hall’s Braeden Anderson graduated in 2018, and Howard’s Joshua Strong is pursuing a law degree now.

“It’s crazy to be on a path that’s not been traveled before,” Bosmans-Verdonk says. “It’s so cool to hear people say, ‘Oh, that’s inspiring. That’s cool. I want to do something like that.’”

Making it work

Balancing practice, games, class and everything else student-athletes manage can be near impossible. It gets even harder when there are mandatory classes and test days that come with law school.

But Bosmans-Verdonk is determined to make it work. He misses practice sometimes to be in class. He schedules his life down to the hour to be sure he’s meeting expectations in the classroom and on the court. To make it work, it takes help.

“I would have to say thank you to so many people — from the team to my professors to my classmates,” he says. “Even (to) the people in the cafeteria who are so nice to me, blessing me with their smile.”

There have been times where he has flown separately to games because he had a test, once starting a game after arriving less than 15 minutes before tip-off.

“I remember being done with [the exam] and my brain just being completely fried,” Bosmans-Verdonk says. “Just the experience was crazy. It just shows how willing everybody is to help me succeed.”


What’s next

Bosmans-Verdonk is still figuring out his plan after graduating; he mentions business as one possible path. Regardless of what he does, his experience at USC has taught him more than he ever imagined.

“You learn how to be a leader, be a part of a team,” he says. “You learn to be a part of something that’s bigger than yourself.”

Not only has he gotten a chance to pursue law, but he’s also been part of a complete turnaround of the basketball program going from 11 wins last season to more than 20 wins going into the SEC Tournament.

“It means absolutely everything,” he says. “I came in not really to chase personal accolades at all. I wanted to be part of a new chapter for South Carolina basketball, and that’s what’s happening.”