Wednesday, February 4, 2009

What if Scott had joined Maloy at Davidson ...

It was 1966, and Davidson basketball coach Lefty Driesell was certain that he had two very special recruits—a 6-foot-7 center with big hands and a stunning vertical leap named Mike Maloy and a 6-5 guard with the ability to take over a game named Charlie Scott.

Both were African American, and Davidson, just like virtually every other school in the South, had never had a black player. Lefty was getting ready to bring that barrier crashing down.

“I had Charlie Scott too,” Driesell said Wednesday, a day after Maloy was found dead in Vienna. He was 59.

Maloy held to his pledge. At the last moment, though, Scott decided to attend North Carolina. Twice, in 1968 and ’69, his Tar Heels and Maloy’s Wildcats would meet in NCAA Regional Finals. Twice, Scott’s teams would prevail, winning by four points and then by two. The two came on an 18-foot, final-seconds jumper by Scott, who had 32 points in the game.

Is there any doubt that had Scott gone to Davidson, the Wildcats would have won both of those games? Is there any doubt that they would have won them easily?

Davidson would have been in two Final Fours, might well have won two national championships. And with that kind of base to build from, maybe the administration would have tried harder to keep Lefty, who left for Maryland following the second of those losses.

Maybe today when we talk about traditional basketball powers, it wouldn’t seem strange to say North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky and Davidson.

- Stan Olson