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BOULDER, Colo. – Colorado walk-on Benan Ersek brings the ball up the court during an exhibition against Colorado School of Mines on Oct. 27, 2021, at CU Events Center. (CU Athletics)

For some athletes, numbers can tell the story of a great career.

With Benan Ersek, focusing on the numbers would be to ignore what has been a fulfilling, behind-the-scenes journey for the senior walk-on with the Colorado men’s basketball team.

“There’s not a day in my life where I say, ‘I wish I wouldn’t have played basketball (at CU),” Ersek said. “I think I did a good job of balancing school, social life. I found my best friends here, who are also part of my daily life. There’s nothing I would change about my four-year career here.”

On Saturday, the Buffs (19-10, 11-8 Pac-12) celebrated senior day with a stunning 79-63 upset of No. 2 Arizona at the CU Events Center. The day belonged to senior star Evan Battey, while the Buffs also honored the careers of Elijah Parquet, Will Loughlin and Ersek.

Battey is one of the all-time beloved Buffs. Parquet was a full-time starter and standout defender until a foot injury ended his season last month. And, Loughlin is a former walk-on who earned a scholarship and has become a game-day contributor in the past month.

Ersek, meanwhile, continues soaking up the memories from the role he’s played since joining the team as a walk-on from Kent Denver School in 2018. In four seasons, he’s played a total of 17 minutes in 11 games, with one rebound, one steal and no points (on two shots).

“It’s tough, but I knew that coming into here four years ago,” he said of the walk-on life. “You don’t get the glory on the court that your other teammates do, but, you know, them getting that glory I know I’m a part of it. I make them better in practice every day. So does Will, so does Cody (Mains), so does Jack (Pease), so does Amondo (Miller). So did all the other walk-ons who came before me.

“I just want my brothers who I’ve recently found in this program to do well.”

While Ersek, a native of Vienna, Austria, hasn’t gotten the glory on game days, his contribution has been important. If the 6-foot-2 guard didn’t have a solid skill set, he wouldn’t be on the team, and there have been times when he’s received a few “oohs” and “aahs” from teammates in practice.

BOULDER, Colo. – Colorado walk-on Benan Ersek shoots the ball during a game against Maine on Nov. 15, 2021, at CU Events Center. (CU Athletics)

“I like passing the ball a lot and I’ve thrown a few flashy passes,” he said with a smile. “You get the recognition like, ‘Oh, you know, he can play.’ I might not be as athletic, as quick, as talented, but you work hard. … They know I can play.”

Ersek’s hard work and contribution to CU have been appreciated by his teammates and head coach Tad Boyle.

“Four years of sacrifice,” Boyle said. “Very selfless. Really, it’s all about the team first.

“Benan has been able to see things from a totally different perspective than McKinley Wright did, or Evan Battey does or Jabari Walker. So his voice, which he’s found this year as a senior, his voice in the locker room carries some weight because he’s got some experience. Benan is a special young man and he’s got a great future ahead of him.”

Before looking ahead to his future, Ersek is taking time to enjoy the present and appreciate his journey from Kent Denver to the Pac-12.

“That was a hard step, let me tell you, transitioning to that quickness, that athleticism at this level,” he said. “I had never experienced something like that. But then coming here, you have to figure out a way to fit in.”

Ersek found a way and said he will always cherish those times when the team celebrated a big win in the locker room, and he’ll never forget being a part of the Buffs’ 2021 NCAA Tournament team.

With his career winding down, Ersek admits he would love to score at least one point.

“It would be fun,” he said. “If I’m getting in there, I’m gonna tell you right now I’m shooting it. … If it doesn’t happen, I’m happy with what I’ve experienced here.

“I got to go against NBA talent. I’ve guarded McKinley in practice, stuff like that.”

Playing time and scoring points were more of a concern earlier in his career than they are now.

“At this point, it’s just about winning,” he said. “It’s about those guys in that locker room because, like I said, those are my brothers and family is first for me. I consider them my family. It’s good to be a part of it, especially a program like this.”

BOULDER, Colo. – Colorado walk-on Benan Ersek, center, leads the cheers from the bench during the Buffaloes’ win against Oregon State on Feb. 5, 2022, at CU Events Center. (CU Athletics)