Irvine Valley's Esplin Keeps Getting Better With Age
Los Angeles Times 19Jan99 L3
By Steve Kresal: Times Staff Writer
Basketball: Sophomore forward, 23, deferred school to go on mission, and now averages 16 points and eight rebounds.
Returned missionary, Ben Esplin was the first basketball player at
Vacaville High, a Los Angles area school, to earn a Division I scholarship
when he signed with University of Pacific in 1994. He had led Vacaville to
the Sac-Joaquin Section finals twice in Sacramento's Arco Arena, winning
once. UOP knew that he was going on a mission, but it was OK with them.
However, he was redshirted his first season and left for his mission to the
Buffalo, NY area the next.
On his return, UOP was going to redshirt him again so he elected to
transfer to Irvine Valley, a local community college, where he is on his
second season as a sophomore forward at age 23. (Unknown to his teammates,
he had his birthday last week but didn't let them know, as he was kidded
enough about being and old man a age 22.) Ben is also an honor-roll
student majoring in physics.
Last season, his first time to play an official game in three years, got
off to a frustrating start. His three-year hiatus really showed. He only
averaged 9 points a game and often didn't start, though he usually finished
the game on the court. This season, Ben is a much more physical player and
is leading Irvine Valley in scoring with 16 points and 8 rebounds per game
He is one of three sophomore players at Irvine Valley. The team wasn't
expected to be much better than .500 this season, but is 15-6 so far. Ben,
also a talented defender, hasn't received much interest from four-year
"That's OK," he said. "I didn't play this year to get recruited. I'm
playing to prove something to myself. I wanted to get back to having fun.
That year at Pacific was really hard and I started to doubt myself
basketball-wise. This year has been nice because I know I'm really a good
basketball player and all that stuff in high school, that wasn't a fluke."