Brandon Bender has been the common thread in the University of Central Florida’s recruitment of Demarcus Smith, a former Seneca High School quarterback, and Kevin Ware, a former University of Tennessee basketball recruit.

That and the fact that both players appeared to be strongly interested in the University of Louisville before making quick commitments to UCF, never even making it to Belknap Campus.

Bender played for a few weeks at Louisville in 2002 before being dismissed for not abiding by team rules by Rick Pitino.  He’s apparently a self-styled, would-be World Wide Wes who’s not very good at anything he does. In the cases of Smith and Ware, both players backed out of their commitments to UCF within weeks.

Now we learn from ESPN columnist Pat Forde that Bender may have been involved in the meandering path that led Enes Kanter to the University of Kentucky:

After an overseas career, Bender returned to the U.S. and coached some AAU ball while also trying to establish himself as a middleman with recruits. Multiple Southeastern Conference coaches told ESPN.com that in 2009-10, Bender contacted them trying to strike a deal for Turkish big man Enes Kanter, who wound up at Kentucky. The SEC coaches said Bender told them he could deliver Kanter.

More recently, Bender has been tied to several other recruits. But he says he hasn’t broken any NCAA rules and is simply trying to get a break in the coaching profession.

“I haven’t done anything wrong,” Bender told ESPN.com on April 22. “If a kid calls me and says, ‘Brandon, help me find a school,’ I’ll do it. I’m trying to do the right thing. I don’t want no distractions. I just want to get into college coaching.”

Like he was going to skip his senior season at Ballard to enter the NBA draft, right?

Now the NCAA appears to be taking an interest in Mr. Bender. This could really get interesting with Mr. Bender’s penchant for saying and doing all the wrong things. Anyone who has dealt with Bender may be a little edgy right now.

He wants to get into coaching. Sure.

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By Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

2 thoughts on “The wobbly world of Brandon Bender”
  1. Mr. Bender has put the screws to UCF’s Big East membership bid. I never realized before that his life’s mission appears to be destroy the University of Louisville. UCF may be hammered as a repeat offer by the NCAA.

  2. I hope he continues to hang around yUK because it’s a perfect fit. This one could likely bubble up in the next few months when the NCAA bloodhounds get closer.
    Bender is really to be pitied because he nver met anyone’s expectations including his own.Big disappointment.

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