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Ben Hansbrough: Best Player Villanova Coach Jay Wright Has Seen This Year

Notre Dame wrapped up its home schedule with a 93-72 whooping of Villanova, making them a perfect 17-0 in South Bend this season. It was a special night for senior Ben Hansbrough who had brother Tyler (pictured) and the rest of his family on hand for Senior Night. He elevated his game for the occasion, hitting seven three-pointers while Tim Abromaitis made nine and the Irish went 20 of 32 from long range in the rout.

In addition to his 30 points, Hansbrough had 10 assists and five steals. The impressive game prompted heavy praise after the contest.

“We’ve seen a lot of great players this year so far. After that performance, I’d say he’s the best I’ve seen now,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said of Hansbrough. “That kid just dominated the game. He did a great job on Corey Fisher. He defended, he controlled the tempo. He broke the press by himself, he made shots and got everyone else shots.”

It was a month ago when we noted that Hansbrough was beginning to emerge like his brother Tyler did at North Carolina. They were 17-4 at the time after beating Pitt on the road and they’ve won seven of eight since then, improving to 24-5. Meanwhile, Villanova has gone in the opposite direction losing eight games in the past six weeks, all of which have come in Big East play.

Coach Jay Wright has seen his team lose to Kemba Walker of UConn, Marshon Brooks of Providence, and Dwight Hardy of St. John’s. To say that Ben Hansbrough is the best he’s seen this year is pretty high praise for the guard from Poplar Bluff, Missouri. Can’t say it hasn’t been earned.

Ben Hansbrough Emerging Like Brother Tyler Hansbrough

Though he was never the star and hyped player his brother was coming out of high school and throughout college, Ben Hansbrough is emerging in his senior year of college. The Notre Dame guard scored a team-high 19 points for the Irish Monday night at the Petersen Events Center in a 56-51 road win over Pitt. He’s played well the entire season and has been consistently good throughout Big East play. For the year, Hansbrough is averaging 16.5ppg on 45.9% shooting and four assists per game. The senior leads his team in points, assists, steals, and three-point shooting, and is one of the biggest reasons why Notre Dame is 17-4.

Ben followed a much different path to stardom than his brother Tyler. Tyler is a much more physically intimidating presence, going 6’9″ and 250lbs. He led his team to three straight state championships before moving on to North Carolina, passing up nearly every other prestigious college. Tyler became the ACC Freshman of the Year, a four-year all-conference player, and three-time All American. He is the career leader in several statistical categories for the Tar Heels, one of the richest programs in college basketball history.

Compared to Tyler who was wanted by every school, younger brother Ben went to Mississippi State straight out of high school. After two seasons spent on 20+ win teams, Ben left Starkville and enrolled in Notre Dame. He was forced to sit out the ’08-’09 season due to transfer rules but made his debut with the Irish last season. Each year of college he has increased his productivity as a player.

Ben Hansbrough won’t end his career with school, conference, or national records, but his importance to his team is starting to rival his brother’s. Best part of all? His play has been so good he’s created his own identity as a star college basketball player.