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1980-'81 Men's Basketball Team

1980-'81 Men's Basketball Team

Class of 2013

During the two basketball seasons of 1980-81 and 1981-82, the students and administration of Warren Wilson College were treated to a team of unprecedented achievement.  I am excited to introduce these teams by describing the quality of the players and offering a few examples of the people they have become over the years. 

From 1980-82 our student body was less than ½ its current size, with the number of male on-campus students numbered just over 200.  During these years, 20 of these young men put WWC Men's Basketball on the regional and national stage.  Playing in front of a packed DeVries gymnasium, the teams consistently achieved Top 10 national rankings, peaking at 5th in the country.  Playing 63 games against much larger schools, the Owls achieved back-to-back 20+ win seasons, with 22 wins in 1980-81 and a school record 24 wins in 1981-82.  The teams won back-to-back South Atlantic District and Conference Championships leading to two National Championship tournament berths.  

The Owls were led by one unassuming coach, three core talents, fifteen critical and unsung role players, and two who provided the glue.

The Unassuming Coach:

The teams were coached by Richard "Dick" Franklin, a 1969 alum and our Dean of Work.  Coach Franklin was a modest leader who will tell you that his best coaching contribution was to 'get out of the way' of the talented players.  During games, when 'time-outs' are typically used for coaching direction, he would turn the conversation over to his 'player-coaches' (the glue) who would interpret game situations and make the adjustments needed.   Coach Franklin's greatest legacy to his teams is his effort to persuade our school to give many of these talented athletes a chance to succeed here and in life.   He was proven right.  19 of the 20 team members graduated from WWC with degrees ranging from Education, Business, Political Science, to Social Work.  17 completed full four year degrees and 2 received degrees as Junior Colleges transfers.   This is Coach's proudest achievement and an extraordinary record at any school.  

Coach Franklin could not join us tonight as he is quite literally sailing in the South Pacific on a once in a lifetime 6 week cruise.

The Talented Core:

The teams featured a core of players considered to be Division 1 level talents who came to Wilson for the chance to receive our unique college experience.   They honored our school then and today.  A few examples:

  • Jimmie Terry:  Voted the team's leading scorer and MVP each of his four years, Jimmie was inducted last evening into the WWC Athletics Hall of Fame.   Post-WWC, Jimmie served his country in the Marines and now teaches employment skills to teenagers and adults seeking work in these tough times.
  • Harry Mills:  On the strength of a deadly long range jump shot, Harry averaged nearly 20 points per game without the benefit of the three-point arc we know today.  After WWC, Harry served in the Marines and now provides direct service and counseling to senior citizens in Henderson NC.
  • Greg Overton:  A slashing scorer and rebounder remembered for his knee buckling dunks, Greg played above the rim, averaging over 20 points and 10 rebounds in both years.  Post-WWC, Greg served for 20 years in the US Air Force, most notably flying and coordinating    F-16 fighter jets with the famous USAF Thunderbirds.      

The Unsung Contributors:

Scooter Patrick:  A bundle of energy and goodness, Scooter's love of the game and his teammates was unsurpassed.  Scooter married his WWC sweetheart Rebecca and, after securing a Physician's Assistant degree, he has dedicated over twenty years of his life to providing emergency and preventative health care to challenged populations.

Larry King, Ian Smith, Steve Whittier, Mark Azel, and Pat O'Neil:  These men may have been the least likely to enter the game but were faithful and intense practice competitors and multi-sport athletes whose commitment and personalities are legendary on and off the court.   Today they are business owners, military veterans, and professionals in their field.

Charles Flowe:  As team Manager, Charles was an eager young man of thoughtful style, fine clothing, and serious dance moves, who emerged to play for the Owls in subsequent years.

The Game Changing Contributors:

The Guards: Ryan Garrett, Mike Bailey, Greg 'Georgia' Young, and Larry Smith served as the '2' guard to Dave Davis and occasionally at  the point.   Solid scorers in their own right, they soon realized that to pass the ball to the talented forwards meant likely never seeing it again.  Their commitment:  Play hard defense, drive to the basket, dish the ball to the talent, get an assist, repeat!

The Power Forwards: Doug 'Deuce' Parker, Linwood Morris, Sandy Piercy, and John 'JT' Morrell.  Often matched with taller opponents, these men were counted on for stellar defense and rebounding, and often double digit points.  They ran both ends of the court and brought a depth in scoring and rebounding that made the difference in championship runs.

The Glue:

Dave Davis and Lloyd Church:  Dave as the team's leader on the court, and Lloyd as the player- coach off the bench (and the purest shooter on his WWC teams), were the glue to a team whose focus and intensity in practice and in games was unmatched by any WWC team of its time.  They share a common view that while talent gets you to the court, hard work and commitment wins games.  Dave and Lloyd have each gone on to 30 year coaching tenures, have led and mentored over a thousand young men, and have become highly recognized college and high school coaching legends.    Lloyd has lead his high school teams to 22 state tournament berths, winning 9 championships, and receiving Coach of the Year honors multiple times.   Dave Davis is among the most successful Division II college coaches in the nation.  Last year, in recognition of his achievements, and his role as player and coach here at Wilson, Dave was inducted as a Charter Member of the WWC Athletics Hall of Fame. 

Ladies and gentlemen I am pleased to present to you these extraordinary Teams of Excellence…the men's basketball teams of 1980-81 and 1981-82.