Kent State basketball recruit becomes first player with autism to join Division 1 school

A men’s college basketball recruit made history earlier this month when he became the first player with autism to sign a letter of intent with a Division 1 school.

Kailin Bennett, a 6-foot-10 center, will leave Little Rock, Arkansas, to join Kent State in the school’s 2019-20 freshmen class.

The Golden Flash announced Bennett had signed the letter of intent Nov. 14. He was ranked as the No. 16 prospect in Arkansas and is coming from the Little Rock Christian Academy.

“We knew we were going to recruit some size and watched Kalin play this summer and got to know him and his story,” Kent State head coach Rob Senderoff said in a news release. “We are really excited to bring him to Kent State. He has autism and to my knowledge, he will be the first Division I player with autism to sign an NLI. We're very excited about the potential he has as a basketball player and he's only scratching the surface. Kalin is a big, strong, physical player that has a soft touch. We look forward to watching his development over the next few years”

Bennett told on Sunday he hopes to inspire kids who battle with autism to achieve their goals.

“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.”

Bennett said he chose Kent State because of the school’s services that help students who are on the autism spectrum.

“Going there and seeing that [support] opened some doors I haven’t really thought about in a while,” he told of a recruiting trip in September.

Bennett, who also excels in music and math, will join the Golden Flash next summer.