Dean Smith, A Kansan and Always a Leader

(Editor’s Note: Some readers were surprised to learn the late Dean Smith was a Kansan and a member of the 1952 NCAA-champion Jayhawk basketball team. The North Carolina coaching legend was born and raised in Emporia and apparently was marked early as a leader by those who knew him, according to this excerpt from the Capitalizing on Sports column of December 18, 1959)

Dean Smith of Kansas is a little guy making good in a big way. He was a fine high school basketball player, but at only 5-10 he never made KU’s starting team.

Still, he impressed his coaches with his intelligence and basketball instinct, and his ability to diagnose and grasp quickly any part of the game. He was the squad’s best at running enemy patterns against the varsity, and KU coach Dick Harp says of him: “He was born to coach.” Continue reading

An Evening With Dean Smith and Other Kansas Superstars

Topeka Capital-Journal
Feb. 6, 2002

Saturday evening, Gerry Barker and his wife, Lois, picked up my wife and me for a trip to Lawrence to have dinner with the 1952 Kansas basketball team, celebrating the 50th anniversary of its national championship season. The 87-year-old Barker drove like there was nothing to it.

I wasn’t worried. He had plenty of advice, back seat and front, and I know he’s physically sound because in golf he has shot his age 125 times, and is still doing it. I can’t shoot my age, but I can shoot our combined age with a little to spare, and on a good day can shoot my temperature and my 1948 IQ. Continue reading