Kalin Bennett is the first player with autism to ever land a D1 basketball scholarship.
“I’m not trying to sound cocky, but I knew I could play Division I, because I play against people all over the country,” he explained. “I can compete with anybody.”
Bennett just committed to Kent State. The 18-year-old is a 6’10’’ center from Arkansas and says he hopes his story can inspire other athletes who might be on the autism spectrum themselves.
“It’s been a life-changing event. I’m not the kind of person that’s like going crazy over it, but I’m just really excited for the future,” he said. “And kids been reaching out to me, kids with autism, kids without autism have been reaching out to me, saying you inspire me.”
Bennett was diagnosed with autism at an early age. He didn’t start walking until he was four years old and didn’t start speaking until the age of seven. But he fell in love with basketball when he was 10 and has become a star player during his high school career.
Since committing to Kent State, Bennett has received tons of national attention. But he also wants to make something very clear — he’s nobody’s charity case.
“The opportunities that came with autism I want to be able to grasp and use to inspire other kids and being able to inspire other people,” he said. “But I’m a hooper. I can play basketball with anybody.”