We all wring our hands so much about kids leaving school early to go to the NBA these days. But the lure of money and fame is hard to resist, and always has been.
Henry Bacon, who played on Denny Crum’s first Final Four team at Louisville, left school with one class unfinished in 1972. He probably figured he’d strike while the iron was hot and grab the big bucks. Instead, he played one season in the ABA for the San Diego Conquistadors and that was it.
Bacon spent the next 40 years earning a paycheck the usual ways, but decided it was time to go back to school and finish his degree. He walked across a stage with kids young enough to be his grandchildren and picked up a meaningful piece of paper this weekend. He told Tim Sullivan of the Louisville Courier-Journal that he didn’t leave his degree unfinished because of laziness or intellectual deficit.
“I never cut a class,” Bacon said. “The only classes I missed in college was when I was on the road playing ball. If you were a jock, you were (considered) an airhead, a bonehead. All you were good for was knocking people down and playing sports and you had no brains. I didn’t want to be a jock. I wanted to have an opportunity to do something else. The only way I saw of doing that was basketball. We played basketball in the rain, in the snow, with a ball that wouldn’t bounce, shoes that wouldn’t lace, with car lights, it didn’t matter.”
Bacon says he didn’t need the degree for financial reasons, but that he had promised his mother he’d finish school. He also wanted his grandchildren to know that his words valuing education weren’t just lip service.
So, is there ANY way U of L could get any more positive press this month? I’m waiting for the story about Charlie Strong rescuing a basket full of puppies from a flood. Should be coming any minute now.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.
Sunday evening Creighton got on the board in the Class of 2016, as 6-foor-4 combo guard Davion Mintz made his pledge to Greg McDermott’s program. Mintz made the decision on the tail end of his official visit to Creighton, picking the Bluejays over Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Tulsa and Wichita State.
News of Mintz’s commitment was first reported by Rick Lewis of the Phenom Hoop Report, with Mintz confirming the news via Twitter shortly thereafter.
Creighton has just two seniors on its current roster in guard Jams Milliken and forward Geoffrey Groselle, but that doesn’t mean they lack for experience. Among the guards on the roster who will be around when Mintz arrives on campus are redshirt juniors Maurice Watson Jr., Malik Albert, and Isaiah Zierden, and Kansas State transfer Marcus Foster will be eligible in 2016-17.
Mintz, who attends North Mecklenberg HS just outside of Charlotte, can play either on or off the basketball. Creighton’s veteran guards should help Mintz with his transition to the college game when he arrives in Omaha in 2016. Mintz played for the Charlotte Nets grassroots program this summer.
Three days after landing one power forward in Sagaba Konate, West Virginia received a verbal commitment from another big man Sunday evening.
6-foot-11 Mountain Mission School (Gurndy, Virginia) power forward Maciej Bender became the Mountaineers’ fourth commitment in the Class of 2016 on Sunday, with the Mountain Mission program announcing the news via Twitter. Bender is a native of Poland, and in addition to Konate he joins guards Brandon Knapper and Chase Harler in West Virginia’s 2016 recruiting class.
West Virginia will lose two forwards in TyQuane Goard and Jonathan Holton at the end of the 2015-16 season, and the additions of Konate and Bender will help the Mountaineers account for those departures from a depth standpoint. Bender can score around the basket, but he’s also capable of facing up and scoring in pick-and-pop situations out beyond the three-point line.
Bender officially visited West Virginia last weekend, and he was a player the WVU coaching staff wanted to get in the fold. Other programs to offer Bender included Arizona State (teammate Jethro Tshisumpa is an ASU commit), Georgia, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss and Providence. Bender played his grassroots basketball for the West Virginia Wildcats program this summer.