KJ’s BB Newsletter           April 20, 2001


Quin Snyder is further polishing his developing tradition at Missouri of recruiting KU rejects and criminals.  Of course, we all know about the Rush brothers, Jaron and Kareem, who KU passed on after it was determined that they took money under the table from agent Myron Piggie, who ran the Kansas City summer leagues.  Quin didn’t have any problem two years ago, though, taking Kareem, who has since left MU after his sophomore year…….to go for the NBA MONEY.

Then last year it was Travon Bryant, who Roy Williams stopped recruiting after Travon couldn’t pass his ACT.  No sweat said Quin, who stashed Bryant at Maine Central Institute, a prep school that got him through the ACT test, so that he could join the Tigers second semester. Don’t put alot of money on Bryant graduating.

Now this year it’s Robert Whatley, a 6’9 center from Benton Harbor, MI., who has been offered a scholarship by Snyder.  No problem for Quin that Whatley has been charged with having non-consensual sex with a 13-year-old girl.  His trial is set for the summer and, according to the Detroit Free Press, he was required to miss several games this past season due to a violation of the school’s athletic honor code.  Sounds like he’ll fit in Columbia...... if he doesn’t land in jail first.


Although the Jayhawks did very well this past fall, they still need a center, but the pickins are slim indeed.  Apparently there is no one to be found in the Juco ranks.  The recently released Juco All-American list doesn’t show anyone over 6’7 among the top 20 players.

A few high school seniors are left, but about the only one who seemingly fits the KU profile is Emeka Okafor, a 6’9, 245 lb. post from Bellaire, TX.  He has recently taken a visit to Arkansas, and has looked at Connecticut, North Carolina State and Ohio State.  Rumor had it that his high school coach is a Bobby Knight fan and was steering him to Texas Tech.  However, I just read that Okafor has passed on Knight.  That alone should assure us that he’s smart enough academically.  But, that same report suggested that KU had cooled on Okafor. If so, don’t look for KU to have a true center on board next year.

Oh well, KU did all right this year without a center.  They’ll do OK next year too, but just think how much better Gooden and Collison would be if they had a stud in the post.

Here’s the third part of my series on the Dark Side of Kentucky Basketball:


Coach Adolph Rupp was a bigot who barred the door to blacks at Kentucky and throughout the SEC for many years.  A Bull Conner look-alike and a George Wallace act-alike, he flaunted his racism and negatively influenced the racial nature of college basketball from the 1930’s and into the 60’s.

Here are four quotes (among hundreds) which illustrate his virulent racism.

"He said, ‘You've got to beat those coons,’ He turned to (center)Thad Jaracz. 'You go after that big coon.' . . . He talked that way all the time. . . A chill went through me. I was standing in the back of the room, and I looked around at the players. They all kind of ducked their heads. They were embarrassed. This was clearly the type of thing that went over the line."   Frank Deford, Sports Illustrated, reporting on Coach Adolph Rupp’s halftime exhortations in the UK Wildcat’s locker room.

"Harry, that son of a bitch is ordering me to get some niggers in here. What am I going to do ? He's the boss."   Harry Lancaster, long-time assistant to Rupp, in his book Adolph Rupp As I Knew Him (Lexington Productions, 1979), quoting Rupp on Dr. John Oswald, UK President.

“Once, I was on a flight with Rupp and sat with him in the first-class section. He had about six Kentucky bourbons in less than an hour and was about halfway to the wind. I told him that I was an attorney who represented some basketball players. Now, I had never met the man, and the first significant thing he said to me was, ‘The trouble with the ABA is that there are too many nigger boys in it now.’  I sat there just stunned. That just killed my image of Adolph Rupp the great coach. Maybe it was because he had too much to drink, but even so...” - Loose Balls by Terry Pluto, Simon & Schuster, 1990, pg. 241.


"Rupp liked to say he had tried to recruit Wilt Chamberlain in the mid-1950s, when the 7-foot Philadelphia phenom was the talk of basketball. 'But could I take him to Atlanta, New Orleans, or Starkville ?' Rupp asked rhetorically.”   And the Walls Came Tumbling Down (1999, Simon & Schuster) by journalist Frank Fitzpatrick, a long-time staffer at the Philadelphia Inquirer.

By the mid-1960’s, racial barriers had been torn down for the most part, in other areas of the country, and in most other sports.   "In the spring of 1966, Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain were dominating the National Basketball Association; Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Frank Robinson were among Major League Baseball's brightest stars; Gale Sayers was preparing to replace Jim Brown as the National Football League's leading rusher; and Muhammad Ali was the world heavyweight boxing champion. In college basketball, every NCAA champion since 1961 had been built around black stars. Loyola of Chicago, the 1963 champion, had four black starters." 1    

Not so in Kentucky.  Rupp took his all-white team to the 1966 NCAA championship game where they faced the all-black Texas Western team coached by Don Haskins. “Rupp’s Runts”, featuring Pat Riley (now coach of the Miami Heat), Louie Dampier and Larry Conley, were ranked number 1. Adolph had publicly declared that he would never let a black wear the Kentucky blue and he was primed to set things right.  As fate would have it though, no-name Texas Western (now the University of Texas, El Paso), with an upstart squad of inner-city blacks led by 5’9 sparkplug Bobby Joe Hill and 245 lb.center David “Big Daddy” Lattin, whipped the big-name monarch of southern basketball and his all-pale squad.  The final score of 72-65 hardly reflected the Miner’s superiority. "So visible was The Baron, and so racist were his views, that he was the predominant reason why Texas Western's victory is remembered a watershed moment in sports history." 2

“Kentucky’s appearance in the final turned out to be Rupp’s last shot at the championship; he retired six years later without ever again taking a Wildcat team past the second round.  It was also the last time a segregated southern school mounted a serious challenge for the NCAA title.  Within the next few years, “white” colleges throughout the south began to actively recruit black players” 3

Preceding the 1970 season, Rupp finally gave in to pressure by UK President Oswald and alumni to bring the program back to a competitive level, and signed Tom Payne, a 7’ center from Louisville.  Payne was the one and only black he ever recruited in his 42 years as coach of the Wildcats.  Payne stayed one year.

"And even with his four national championships Rupp will always be viewed in the mirror of the Texas Western game, where he was on the wrong side of history. Rupp never recovered from that. And for many black Americans, neither did Kentucky." 4

Isn’t it poetic that Rupp is recalled as a villain in a sport now dominated by a race he excluded?   It’s also ironic that Rupp’s ultimate legacy was that the 1966 game did more than anything else to integrate the sport.  "You guys got a lot of black kids scholarships around this country," Miners coach Don Haskins said in an emotional address at the [25th Anniversary] reunion. "You can be proud of that. I guess you helped change the world a little bit." 5

His epitaph?

“For 42 years it was his way of dealing with defeat. Acerbic, arrogant, defiant, Adolph Rupp won 875 games and lost none. It was his players who lost those 190.” 6


1 "Dribbling on Rupp's grave. Author shoots an Airball with Bogus Analysis of Famous UK Game,"   by Billy Reed, Lexington Herald Leader, February 28, 1999.

2  Bergen Record, by Dave D'Alessandro, March 3,1996.

3  The Encyclopedia of the NCAA Basketball Tournament, page 266, by Jim Savage.

4  “To Tubby: May the Best Man Win,” by Tony Kornheiser, Washington Post, My 15, 1997.

5   By Jack Wilkinson, Atlanta Journal and Constitution, April 1, 1991.

6 Calling Rupp a Racist Just Doesn’t Ring True, by David Kindred, Lexington Herald Leader, December 22, 1991.