At one point in time, former Indiana University and New Castle High School standout and current UCLA coach Steve Alford dubbed the Brownstown Central grad as the “Larry Bird of NCAA Division III basketball.”
Dave Benter left an illustrious legacy at Hanover College before returning to Jackson County to head the Braves’ boys basketball program and teach physical education.
On Feb. 11, the college immortalized Benter — retiring his No. 34 jersey.
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At halftime of the Panthers’ basketball game against Earlham, five former players, including Benter, took to center court.
The standouts included Benter (graduated 1996), Joe Brunk (1982), and Mark Gabriel, Rob St. Pierre and Steve Wilson (all 1970).
Benter’s jersey joined the other four, which already were retired.
“It was a really special day,” Benter said. “There were a lot of former teammates and other guys I’ve known for years. It was good seeing those guys and spending the day with them.”
All five former athletes now have a banner on the wall in the north side of the arena with their jersey number, name and the years they were at Hanover.
Benter was a four-year member of the Hanover program, helping lead the Panthers to a 79-28 record.
In his junior and senior seasons, Benter topped the Indiana Collegiate Athletic Conference in both scoring and rebounding.
Those same years, Benter earned back-to-back ICAC most valuable nods.
The team advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division III National Tournament during Benter’s junior and senior seasons.
His senior year, Benter averaged 22.5 points and nine rebounds en route to earning one of the most prestigious individual titles in the country — the National Association of Basketball Coaches National Player of the Year Award.
Also in his senior year, the Panthers won the ICAC championship.
While he appreciates the individual accolades, Benter said the lasting memories are what matter most to him.
“I was fortunate to play on some very good teams there,” Benter said. “On top of that, winning the conference my senior year and playing in the NCAA Division III tournament my junior and senior year. It was all the road trips and being together, the daily grind.”
Following the game against Earlham, Benter attended and spoke at a banquet with former players, administration and current players and their families.
“I talked to the (current) team at the banquet after the game and told them, ‘Whether you’re the 15th guy or the best player on the team, those are some special times,'” Benter said. “Kids and parents take for granted sometimes. There are so many good things you can get from sports. There’s disappointment and euphoria. You can learn how to deal through so many different adversities.”
Benter is currently fourth all-time in scoring at Hanover (1,934) and sixth for rebounding (755).
Benter said if he had the chance to go back in time, he would choose Hanover all over again.
“It goes by so quick,” Benter said. “It’s time you can’t get back and do over. It was a great four years there. I enjoyed every minute of it.”
Brownstown Central High School boys basketball coach Dave Benter left a lasting impression at Hanover College as a player. Benter currently holds numerous records and boasts several accolades for his career from 1992 to 1996.
- National Association of Basketball Coaches National Player of the Year Award for NCAA Division III (’96)
- Indiana Collegiate Athletic Conference two-time MVP (’94-’95, ’95-’96)
- All-American honors as a junior (’94-’95)
- Named to Hanover’s Athletic Hall of Fame (2008)
- ICAC Champions (’96)
- Hanover three-time MVP (’93-’94, ’94-’95, ’95-’96)
- John R. Collier Mental Attitude Award (’94-’95, ’95-’96)
- Career points at Hanover (1,934) (fourth all-time)
- Career rebounds at Hanover (755) (sixth all-time)
- Points by a junior at Hanover (661)
- Scoring average by a junior at Hanover (23.6 points per game)
- Free throws in a season at Hanover (145)