By JAIME HERNANDEZ
It’s been more than six years since Pima Community College freshman forward Ben “Murphy” Gershman played competitive basketball. At age 24, he’s back on the court.
The Tucson High School graduate started playing basketball at age 7.
When he graduated from high school, no colleges made any scholarship offers. He attended PCC, but dropped out after four weeks to join the work force.
“I wasn’t ready for college back then,” Gershman said. ”I wasn’t interested in school and I wasn’t playing basketball, so there was nothing really keeping me here.”
Gershman worked retail, then started his own home remodeling and maintenance company about two years ago.
He kept returning to the basketball court, playing in a city league. A friend, Jerry Ledesma, urged Gershman to try out for the PCC basketball team.
“He would constantly tell me to try out, but I would keep putting him off ‘cause honestly I didn’t think I could do it,” Gershman said.
First-year PCC head coach Brian Peabody didn’t share Gershman’s doubts.
“I went to watch him play and offered him a spot on the team right away,” Peabody said.
Peabody said Gershman brings a blue-collar work ethic that makes him the team’s leader.
“He treats this like a job,” Peabody said. “He comes to practice every day ready to work.”
Both Peabody and Gershman believe in leading by example. So far this season, Gershman is averaging 19.1 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.
“I didn’t think I would be playing this good,” Gershman said. “The thing is, I know I can play much better.”
Gershman has garnered respect from his teammates.
“He’s amazing,” freshman forward Maurice “Mo” Webb said. “Ben is the leader of our team in every
sense. If there’s someone you should look up to or someone you’re trying to emulate on or off the court, it’s Ben Gershman.”
Basketball has opened other opportunities for Gershman.
He’s earned a 3.8 GPA taking gen-ed classes at Pima, and hopes to continue playing at a four-year university. His long-term goal is to earn a degree in engineering.
“I wasn’t ready for school back then, but I am now,” Gershman said.