Last week, we posted a picture of the cover of the new Sports Illustrated, which featured all-world freshman Andrew Wiggins.
It was a big deal, as Wiggins was the cover boy during what is arguably the busiest time of the year for sports fans.
The article itself, which is now available to read online, was written by Luke Winn and was a terrific read about the three once-in-a-generation talents that have come through Lawrence: Wilt Chamberlain, Danny Manning and now Wiggins.
There are plenty of juicy details in the book about the recruitment of Chamberlain and Manning, which makes it quite evident that even in the 1950’s, athletes had enough value to a community to see their pockets gets line. Chamberlain at one point helped wave cars into an alumni parking lot during football games, where he would pocket hundreds of dollars in “tips”.
The best anecdote, however, comes from Bill Self. He was able to land a visit from Wiggins on the day that the Jayhawks hosted Texas Tech, and he tailored his game-plan to impress the recruit:
The Wigginses sat behind KU’s bench for a 79–42 blowout of Texas Tech, and it was no coincidence that the game plan was heavy on ball screens and lobs, with point guard Elijah Johnson throwing six alley-oops in the first half. Says Self, “We did the things that gave us the best chance to win and were along the lines of what the family would like to see.”
To some, that may seem ridiculous. Wouldn’t it be more important for the recruit to see you win than to risk a loss playing the style he wants to see? Keep in mind: Kansas was playing Texas Tech at the Phog. They could have let me out there to handle the point and it probably would have worked out OK.
What’s neat, however, is that you’re getting a glimpse of just how hard these coaches go after the recruits they’re targetting.