I’m No Picasso, Posters: UDelaware

No, I cannot say that doing the posters for the locker room actually contributed to us winning games, though I do believe that every little bit helps. But I can say they helped me recruit one outstanding player at the University of Delaware: Lee Swayze. No, I don’t have any of those posters because I sent them all — four, maybe five — to him. Lee was a local kid, from right there in Newark, Delaware, home of the University of Delaware and his Christiana H.S. After high school, though, he went two years to Brandywine Junior College, in Wilmington, Delaware.

So, it was the Spring and Summer of 1970, just before my last year at UD. Lee was already an outstanding player in high school and improved even more under coach Harry Pappas at Brandywine JC. He was 6’4″ tall, maybe taller, and he was a complete player: defense, rebounds, passing, scoring. Everything. But we were too close to home for him and he was on his way to American University in Washington DC. Delaware was not bound by any NCAA ‘letter of intent,’ so I continued recruiting him, a soft sell: I sent him posters, rolled up in cylinders.

His JC teammates all said to him, “You’re crazy! You shouldn’t go to AU. You should go to Delaware.” When Lee would ask why, they’d say, “That coach really wants you! Does any other coach send you posters?” At the time, there were only 50 high schools in Delaware (Indiana had 450, Illinois had 950), so a great local kid was a jewel and I had seven start for me in 5 years at UD: Vic Orth, Walt Cloud, Bill Beatty, Ken Helfand, David Spencer (who gets these e-mails), Steve Jackson (who gets these e-mails) and Lee Swayze. I loved every one of them!

As the summer ended, I called Lee to wish him well at AU. That was it. Two days later, I got a phone call: “Coach, it’s Lee Swayze. Is it too late to enroll at Delaware?” I said, “Where are you?” It was the last day for registration and we rushed him through and he was our MVP that year. I asked him, “Lee, I’m so glad to have you with us but … what changed your mind?” He said, “That last poster.” I said “Which one was that?” He said, “You had the starting five and you gave me number 22.” So, that was the best poster time investment I ever made!