The 6-foot-7 South Carolina native started at Nation Ford High in Fort Mill before re-classifying and transferring to Carmel Christian. Ben Burnham averaged 23.6 points, 12.8 rebounds and 2.8 blocks as a senior, and led his team to a state 4A runner-up finish, but still only held two D-I offers coming out of high school: one from Pat Kelsey at Winthrop and one from Mount St. Mary’s.
“I don’t know why no one else really wanted me,” Burnham said. “I guess I’m just an under-the-radar-type guy.”
“Kels loved the kid,” Charleston assistant Brian Kloman said. “He didn’t care that other D-I’s weren’t on him. He’s got an unorthodox game, but he can shoot it, and he just has a knack to make winning plays.”
Burnham initially committed to play for Kelsey at Winthrop, where his mother is a teacher. When he was informed by his high school coach that Kelsey was leaving for Charleston, he wasn’t sure what to do. But after Liberty came in late and tried to get him, the man of few words decided to stay loyal to Kelsey.
“My mom wanted me to think about Liberty, but I knew I wanted to go to Charleston,” he said.
“I think it’s Kelsey and the vision and energy he has,” Burnham added.
Burnham started 26 games as a freshman, and earned a spot on the CAA All-Rookie squad after averaging 7.7 points and 4.3 rebounds. His minutes have decreased from 19.8 to 16.0, but he’s still averaging 7.9 points and is shooting 41 percent from three. He had a terrific stretch on both ends of the court to help the Cougars avoid a home loss against Delaware recently, and finished with 13 points and eight boards in the win.
“Coach Kelsey and the staff are good at seeing talent and potential,” he said. “We have great chemistry.”