Younger Vander Plas set to meet family friend Bennett in NCAA Tournament

Sports

Ohio’s Ben Vander Plas (5) drives to the basket against Buffalo’s Josh Mballa (34) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game for the championship of the Mid-American Conference men’s tournament Saturday, March 13, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

(WFRV) – It may be hard to believe, but it’s been thirty years.

 “It makes me feel old, Jack. Right? It’s like what, wait a second,” said Tony Bennett.

Back in 1991, Bennett and Dean Vander Plas helped lead the Green Bay Phoenix to their first Bert in the NCAA Tournament.

“I remember sitting, I think it was the Rock Garden Supper Club, a host of Phoenix faithful and the name came up and everybody’s screaming. I remember that, the goosebumps were so significant,” said Dean Vander Plas.

Fast forward to 2021 and there’s another Vander Plas ready to make his debut in the Big Dance. Ohio redshirt junior Ben Vander Plas helped the Bobcats claim the Mid-American Conference’s automatic bid over a week ago.

Ohio’s forward Ben Vander Plas (5) lays in the ball against Illinois in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Nov. 27, 2020, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Holly Hart)

“There was just a rush of emotions on Saturday as I watched the seconds tick off and know that Ben and his teammates are going to get to go do this, and knowing what that feeling is like,” said Dean Vander Plas.

Waiting for Ben Vander Plas and the Bobcats in the first round is the Virginia Cavaliers, coached by none other than Tony Bennett. So of course thirty years later Bennett is once again going to share the floor with a Vander Plas, and one that he has a unique scouting report for already.

“Watching Ben play I was like, man, I see some of the things his dad did. His dad was so physical and had just the skill and the craftyness. Dean will get mad at me, but what I seee, Ben might be better. I don’t know,” said Bennett.

“There couldn’t be a better evaluation. Ben is a way better player than I ever could be. He manages the game so well, he’s not selfish, he makes his teammates better,” said Vander Plas.

When Ohio and Virginia take the floor on Saturday Dean Vander Plas will be there. Watching the young man he once coached in high school play on another big stage.

“It’s so much fun to go to an arena, and just be dad. IT’s kind of fun to sit with the rest of the parents, and cheer and enjoy. I’m loving a dad riding through this. Our family is enjoying. It is really cool and it was easy to get used to,” said Dean Vander Plas.

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