Ryan Betley feels primed to finish on top

Back from a knee injury that derailed his junior season, Ryan Betley rejoins a senior core that’s revived Penn men’s basketball.

Fresh off a surprise Ivy League championship in his sophomore season, Ryan Betley was feeling great as his junior campaign began a year ago. The guard scored the first points of the season—a three-pointer 30 seconds into the Penn men’s basketball team’s opener at George Mason. A few minutes later, he went up for a layup, and “the next thing I know I’m on the floor and my kneecap is out of place,” he says. “Not a great experience.”

Number 21 player Ryan Betley makes a shot on court during a Penn basketball game.
Ryan Betley goes up for a shot against Princeton in 2018. (Image: Penn Athletics)

The Quakers won the game but suffered a far more significant loss: Betley, one of the Ivy League’s top players, ruptured the patellar tendon in his right knee. He didn’t play again the rest of the season—an absence that ultimately doomed Penn’s quest to repeat as Ivy champs. The Quakers actually swept through the Big 5, but faltered at the start of Ivy play, finished with a .500 league record, and were bounced by Harvard in the first game of the conference tournament.

After surgery and a long rehab process, Betley was back to 100 percent as practices began for the 2019–20 season, which opens on Nov. 5 at Alabama. But the eight-month recovery was grueling—particularly “the mental side, which was harder than the physical side,” he says. Watching his teammates stun defending national champion Villanova, for instance, was a lot less fun than it would have been if he had been on the court instead of on crutches. “It wasn’t easy,” Betley says, “but you learn to accept it.”

Read more at The Pennsylvania Gazette.