North Carolina Newspapers

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the Braves 68*63 In last year's Midwest Regional (ph
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oto by Jay Mather, copyright ?1983, The Louisville
i Coming...
n And Out?
The Big Time is filled with potholes, slick
cy curves, as Division I black schools have
i their quest for the prestige and big bucks
at the end of the NCAA rainbow.
By BARR Y COOPER
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would dribble a basketball between his
legs and around amazed defenders
before routinely siiiking 30-foot jump
shots.
Willis Reed was a punishing center
for Grambling State University.
And North Carolina Central's Sam
Jones was a poised guard who was
equally at ease playing the role of a rebounder,
scorer or assist man.
. Twenty years ago. Three dominant
players. Times have changed.
Now players similar in talents to
Monroe, Reed and Jones seldom
choose black colleges, though there are
some exceptions.
The University of District of Columbia
has 6-11 center Earl Jones, who the
pro scouts say is a potential first-round
draft choice.
. And North Carolina A&T's Joe Binion
is considered one of the country's
best small forwards. .
Those are just a couple of names,
though. The v^ryt best basketball
players ? the kind who are bonafide
superstars - now turn their noses up at
schools such as Grambling and
Winston-Salem State.
All this after schools such as^ the
University of Kentucky, which was
built into a powerhouse by the late
Adolph Rupp, resisted recruiting blackathletes
until the 1960s.
The Wildcats had to change their
way of thinking, however, because
coaches such as Joe Williams of
Jacksonville and A1 McGuire of Marquette
had proven that the way to win
championships was not with slow,
hustling white kids, but with blacks
who could run with the wind and, most
importantly, 7-foot centers such as Artis
Gilmore, who rep<^t3|ly turned
down 4 predominantly black Florida
A&M to attend Jacksonville.
All Gilmore did was lead a relatively
mediocre team to the NCAA Final
Four.
"Florida A&M wonders what might
have happened if Gilmore had signed
with the Rattlers instead.
Other black colleges ponder similar
questions: What if Howard University
could sign a Patrick Ewing? What if
Akeem Olajuwon had dreamed his way
to Texas Southern?
What if Keith Lee had joined the
Tigers of Tennessee State rather than
the Tigers of Memphis State?
We'll never know the answers to
those questions. Gilmore, Ewing, Olajuwon
and Lee took different routes,
accepting what they considered the best
situations for them.
Barry Cooper writes a nationallysyndicated
column on black- and
small-college sports.
    

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