There’s No Place Like Home When Home Is Lawrence
On the heels of explaining why the NBA should raise the age limit to 21, Kansas’ Scot Pollard looks back on his time in Lawrence and explains why there isn’t a better place to experience college basketball than the place which James Naismith and Phog Allen both called home. Yes, @scotpollard31 is proud to be a Jayhawk.
“When I took my recruiting visit to the University of Kansas, I knew it was a special place. “Pay heed all who enter, beware of the Phog”. What does that mean? The Fieldhouse is named after Forrest “Phog” Allen. Wilt Chamberlain played there. Dean Smith played there. Yes, Dean was a Jayhawk first. Adolph Rupp learned the game there. I could go on…
They had 17,000 show up for their first practice! At midnight! I committed, more to Roy Williams than the university, and definitely not to the state of Kansas. I went to high school in San Diego and the state of Washington. San Diego was home, I was DEFINITELY going back. But then I changed my mind. Walking around campus I quickly realized that it was a pretty big deal to be a Jayhawk basketball player.
Big Man On Campus is an understatement at KU. The players there are like royalty. You walk past lines at bars, you get a meal or two offered for free, (offered, not accepted), there’s a lot of attention from the student body, (yep, pun intended). You have adults and students alike stopping you on the street and asking for pictures and autographs. It’s a big deal.
The “dorm” that we lived in is right by Allen Fieldhouse. It’s co-ed. I met my wife there. She lived across the hall. I ended up proposing to her at “Late Night” in front of 17,000 friends and family in 1996 (nails painted but not in a dress as some believe.) People still come up to me and tell me they were there that night. But that’s another story.
As school went on in my freshman year, the “benefits” of being a Jayhawk were piling up. We hosted Indiana in December of 1993. Back then they were very good. We were ranked 6th in the country, and they were 12th. Damon Bailey ended up with 36 points, and most of those were in the second half. He was absolutely amazing that night. He hit a shot with about 20 seconds left to tie the game. Our ball. Jacque Vaughn, my roommate, best man at my wedding eventually, hit a 3-pointer with less than a second on the clock to give us the win.
Clutch shot, clutch guy, clutch play (Clutch is my favorite band by the way), game over. We celebrate, shower, change, post game interviews, etc. When JV and I walk up to our dorm room, it’s covered in notes for Jacque, praising his shot, his toughness, his body, etc. As we were reading them, more people came up to put more on there and were embarrassed/excited to run into us (of course it was for JV not me). A few pictures more and then we went inside to talk about it. After an hour or so it was time to hit the hay. Jacque probably went to his room and studied for a couple hours. The conclusion of our talk? “It’s good to be a Jayhawk.”
There are a lot of colleges and universities (what’s the difference?) that boast to have the best team, fans, players, blah blah blah. Only one had the inventor of the game as our first head coach. Only one has been playing basketball longer than all the rest. Only one has had eight, yes only eight head coaches in 113 years. Only one has fans that camp out weeks in advance of big games to get good seats. Only one has players from all over the country end up staying in tiny Lawrence, Kansas after school like me. Only one throws roses at the seniors on senior night to show their appreciation. Everyone has a team. Kansas has a program. Special? Yup.
Rock Chalk Jayhawk!”