After former Wake Forest standout Chris King was drafted in 1992, the NBA sent him – and others – to the Caribbean to play some pickup basketball and participate in some clinics. When King returned home, he told his college coach, Dave Odom, about an impressive prospect he saw in the Virgin Islands.
That player, of course, was Tim Duncan, who retired Monday after 19 NBA seasons. Only King didn’t get his name or telephone number.
“He didn’t know anything,” Odom said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “Fortunately I had on my staff a guy who had some experience in the Caribbean. His name was Larry Davis. I put him on the case and 24 hours later, we had Tim’s name and his telephone number.”
The rest is history. Duncan played four years at Wake Forest, leading the Demon Deacons to two Sweet 16s and an Elite Eight.
“When there’s a dearth of big men, like there was at that time, you can’t leave any diamond uncovered,” Odom said. “As it turned out, we brought in three 6-10 kids that year. That was a great, great haul for us and took us to great heights in the ACC.”
The crazy thing? Odom didn’t even have to fight for Duncan. There was no recruiting war over him whatsoever.
“It never happened,” Odom said. “Never happened. He visited us. Georgetown visited him. That, for whatever reason, went nowhere. Providence was interested in him, Hartford was interested in him and Delaware State was interested in him. He only visited my place, and Rick Barnes was at Providence. If you can believe this – and I’ve kidded Rick about this every time I see him – he invited Tim to come visit Providence in January. It’s freaking freezing in January in Providence. Are you kidding me? (Tim) thinks snow is a fairy tale, and Rick brings him up there in January? You know we’re getting that kid.”
It’s hard to imagine Duncan going largely unnoticed in today’s social-media era, but Odom still doesn’t think there would be many schools fighting for him.
“The average person living in the U.S. Virgin Islands today, there’s no way they go uncovered,” said Odom, the Tournament Chairman of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. “However, Tim Duncan is still Tim Duncan. It’s not like he set out to be uncovered. It’s not like he sent out a bunch of videos, saying, ‘Hey, look at me. I’m a great prospect.’ It’s not like he sent out letters to coaches, saying, ‘Hey, come down here and I’ll work out for you.’ He might still have gone the same recruiting route, just because it’s his personality. He’s not going to drum up a lot of hoopla. He’s just going to do it his way – Tim Duncan’s way.”