On this edition of the HBCU Athlete Profile, we highlight and wish a Happy Belated Birthday to Ben Wallace, a former NBA champion center who played his college ball in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) for the Virginia Union Panthers.
Ben Wallace played just two years with Virginia Union after spending his first two years Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio. He was influenced to attend the University by former alum and NBA veteran Charles Oakley.
In his first season with the Panthers, he led the team to a CIAA tournament championship and the Sweet 16 of the Division II Basketball Tournament. His second and final season saw him lead Virginia Union to the Final Four of the Division II Tournament despite losing in the CIAA Tournament. He was named to the All-CIAA First Team and was named a First Team All-American in his senior season.
In his two years at Virginia Union, Ben Wallace averaged 13.4 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 3.6 blocks in 62 games. In 2005, he was named to the CIAA 60th Anniversary All-Tournament Team and was inducted into the CIAA Hall of Fame in 2015.
Following the end of his college career in 1996, Ben Wallace entered the NBA as an undrafted free agent joining the Washington Wizards. He spent three years with the Wizards before spending a year with the Orlando Magic.
In 2000, Ben moved onto the Detroit Pistons, where he would spend six years having the best stretch of his NBA career. Although he did not score much, averaging just 7.9 points during this time but it was his abilities on defense that made him great, averaging 12.9 rebounds, 2.8 blocks, and 1.6 steals. During this span, he won the Defensive Player of the Year award four times, was named to the All-Star team four times, five All-NBA teams, and five All-Defensive teams.
It was in the 2003-2004 season that Ben Wallace won his one and only NBA championship with the Pistons on a team that is not only one of the most incredible defensive teams in NBA history but one of the greatest teams in NBA history period.
After leaving the Detroit Pistons following the 2005-2006 season, Ben Wallace would play six more seasons for the Pistons’ division rivals Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers, spending the final three seasons of his career with the Detroit Pistons.