Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What if?...

As the college hoops season descends upon us I had a moment to read a preview mag and think about some of the past in the college basketball world. I decided to play the what if game and went back to the 1989-1990 season. The thoughts instantly went to Hank Gathers. For those too young too remember, Gathers was a star forward for Loyola Marymount University. It was he and high school teammate Bo Kimble, along with the frenetic breakneck pace favored by coach Paul Westhead that put this school on the map. In a game in December 1989 Gathers collapsed in a game while shooting a free throw. It was revealed that he had a heart ailment and had to be put on medication. He came back and was a force on the court averaging around 30 points and 12 rebounds. It was one game that season that made me think he was the real deal. It was a  148-141 overtime loss to LSU, that boasted future pros Chris Jackson, Stanley Roberts, and Shaquille O'Neal. He and Kimble held their own, but it was Gathers' performance the stole the show. Gathers, listed at 6-8, went for 47 points on the 7 foot 300 pound maneaters, Stanley and Shaq. I couldn't wait to see how he would do in the NBA. I've always said that if Hank were healthy and had the heart ailment under control, he would've went number one in the draft and not Derrick Coleman. I know I get plenty of arguments about that one until i point out the LSU game. It was an untimely death and a sad moment for the sports world as a whole. The Lions went on to the NCAA tournament and made an inspired run to the elite eight where they fell to the eventual champion UNLV, 131-101. I always thought Gathers would have made a good pro and a great investment as the top pick.

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