Class of 2015
Ben Wiley’s basketball career began in Elkmont, took him to southeast Alabama, east Tennessee and back to Limestone County where he finished at Athens State.
“He was a hardworking basketball player,” said former Elkmont teammate Garth Garris. “He really didn’t turn it loose until his senior year (at Elkmont). There were lots of good basketball players in the county at that time and he could
play against any of them.”
Wiley played at Elkmont from 1985-87 during a time when Limestone County basketball was at an all-time high. The competition was so good, Elkmont’s area and county opponents — Tanner and East Limestone — played one another in the 3A state championship game in 1986.
Tanner went on to win the state championship that season along with the area tournament, but not without a fight. Wiley and the Red Devils pushed Tanner in a 62-59 loss in the area semifinals.
“I remember that night he stepped up against Tanner,” said Garris. “He dominated the game inside the paint. That’s really when Ben became a dominant force. He was blocking shots, taking it to the glass. He was such a hard worker, he didn’t think anything about it.”
Wiley played for coach Keith Schrimsher, who said his star player peaked during his senior year with the Red Devils. Schrimsher recalled a game in a Madison tournament when Wiley was injured and required stitches.
“He was a little timid, but when I showed him some film of that game, I think he realized how tough he was. The second half of his junior, year he was a force to be reckoned with,” said Schrimsher. “He didn’t get recruited heavy because he was small for a post player, but
he could really hold his own inside. A lot of people missed out on Ben Wiley because of his size.”
After he was named Elkmont’s first All-State first-team selection his senior year, Wiley signed with Southern Union Community College. Wiley excelled at Southern Union, averaging 26 points and 11 rebounds per game and was named the Alabama Junior College Player of the Year in 1989.
Wiley’s recruitment picked up in junior college and he signed with the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga where he played one season for the Mocs before finishing his career at Athens State College.
“We were good, but there was one missing piece at the power forward spot,” remembered Barry Devine, former Athens State sports information director. “When he stepped in after Christmas, we just took off. We went being from good to a great team. He was the missing piece.”
Wiley was forced to sit out the first semester after transferring from UTC, but once he was able to play, the Elkmont native became an instant success.
“The first game he was eligible, we were playing at the University of Mobile,” remembers Devine. “Before the game, coach Murrell would always tell me the starting lineup. I asked coach if he was going to go with Ben and he raised his head and looked at me like I was crazy.”
Wiley started that game and the rest of his games at Athens State that season. With Wiley in the lineup, ASU advanced to the quarterfinals of the NAIA National Basketball Tournament in 1991.
“He made us deeper, but also much better. That was the last time we made it to the Elite 8,” said Devine. “(In that tournament) Ben went against a 6-10 guy from Minnestota-Deluth that got drafted and (Ben) more than held his on against him.”
Wiley lives in Athens where he is director at Athens Parks and Recreation.