Removing Barriers and Opening Doors
Data devotee Ben Starks ’20 is determined to work for the NBA. And with the help of his scholarships, he has more than a foot in the door. This Bulldog is on a breakaway.
Ben Starks ’20 uses analytics to help the UGA men’s basketball team excel.
After a career-defining internship with the Los Angeles Clippers, he aims to work for the NBA.
Opportunities to jump-start Ben’s professional pursuits have been fully funded by his Ramsey Honors Scholarship and Foundation Fellowship.
“My scholarships have helped me stand out … UGA has put me in the perfect position to reach my goals.”
Ben Starks ’20
You won’t see him on the court, but Ben Starks ’20 is a valuable member of the UGA men’s basketball team. He uses his passion for data to gather and analyze statistics, helping players excel.
A Ramsey Scholar and Foundation Fellow, Ben has had many opportunities to improve his game. His scholarships funded an internship with the Los Angeles Clippers and trips to the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference with top experts in his field. More than shaking hands with the right people, Ben is forming long-lasting relationships in a highly competitive industry.
“My scholarships have helped me stand out,” said Ben. “I’m able to say that I’ve been to this conference multiple times and that I’ve worked with the basketball team. UGA has put me in the perfect position to reach my goals.”
Though he grew up in Celebration, Florida, Ben’s parents—both Bulldogs—passed along a love for UGA. The Ramsey Honors Scholarship, a prestigious merit-based award, made attending UGA as financially viable as enrolling at a school in Florida.
A lifelong love of basketball led to Ben’s interest in sports analytics. Now, he is pursuing a bachelor’s in management information systems and a master’s degree in business analytics from the Terry College of Business. Through UGA’s Double Dawg program, he will earn both degrees in four years. Ben will also earn a minor in sport management from the College of Education.
Adding to his rigorous academic schedule, Ben tracks the men’s basketball team’s practice stats. His scrupulous spreadsheet—detailing shots, turnovers and more—provides hard data and the motivation a player might need to improve. Ben also researches statistics on opponents, giving pre-game reports that go beyond video.
“I enjoy looking at graphs and numbers and am always trying to figure out trends,” said Ben. “This is the perfect way for me to pursue sports but play on a different side of the game.”
Ben in the Los Angeles Clippers office during his internship in 2018.
Ben with Shane Battier, a former NBA player and current director of analytics for the Miami Heat, during the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.
In 2018, Ben had a career-defining internship with the Los Angeles Clippers. He witnessed what it takes to manage a team on and off the court. Ben got to know the Clippers’ star-studded team and he was impressed by the organization’s commitment to diversity in the workplace.
“The Clippers have the most female executives out of any NBA team,” said Ben. “Everything they do has meaning behind it. They are trying to increase diversity in the sports world, and I think that is really important.”
With the help of his scholarships, Ben also traveled to the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference—twice. Attended by ESPN personalities, NBA general managers and sports legends, the event is a prime networking opportunity.
“I soak in as much knowledge as I can from people who are doing exactly what I want to do,” said Ben. “And I come back and use what I learned with the basketball team or in the classroom.”
Ben is looking forward to another internship with the Clippers in the summer of 2019. He will also travel to MIT for a third time, solidifying relationships that will undoubtedly help his job search when he graduates. His scholarships will again cover the expense of these opportunities.
“There are a lot of things I wouldn’t have been able to do without my scholarships,” said Ben. “And I haven’t gone into any of these experiences feeling underprepared or overwhelmed. The professors here are genuinely invested in their students’ success in and outside the classroom.”