Hall of Famer Weatherspoon joins USM coaching staff

 

Rick Cleveland
Rick Cleveland

The greatest player in Southern Miss basketball history is returning to Hattiesburg as a member of the Golden Eagle basketball staff.

Now then, Clarence Weatherspoon needs to help Doc Sadler recruit players and coach them to play with the same passion and ability that he always displayed himself.

That will be no easy chore.

In four years at USM, Weatherspoon never took a play off. Yes, he was strong and

Clarence Weatherspoon
Clarence Weatherspoon

could jump like Jordan, but it was his almost maniacal work ethic that made him a four time All-Metro Conference player and a three-time Metro Conference Player of the Year. Keep in mind, this was when the Metro included the likes of Louisville, Memphis, Cincinnati, Marquette, Florida State, Virginia Tech, South Carolina and others.

Weatherspoon, who played 13 productive seasons in the NBA, was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 2015. Currently, he is a member of the MSHOF Board of Directors.

What follows is from a column I wrote on Spoon in 2014…

Southern Miss had just been defeated by North Carolina State in the first round of an NCAA Tournament game at College Park, Md. It was the last game of Clarence Weatherpoon’s college basketball career.

I don’t remember how many points he scored, but it was a bunch. I don’t remember how many rebounds he got, but they were plenty, too. I remember that USM lost handily in spite of Spoon’s remarkable efforts.

But here’s what I do remember most. None of the Mississippi media contingent could file their stories or reports until talking to Spoon. After all, the greatest player in the history of the school had just played his last game.

So we waited, and waited, and waited. No Spoon.

Turns out, selected players had to be drug tested after every NCAA Tournament game. Spoon had been selected. Never mind that quite possibly of all the players in college basketball, Spoon might have been the least likely to test positively for drugs.

Rules were rules. He had to pee in a cup, and he had nothing left to give. Literally.

He couldn’t do the post-game press conference until he urinated into a cup. They kept giving him water and Gatorade. He drank bottle after bottle.

Finally, about 90 minutes after the game, he peed. And we got our interview and wrote our columns.

I tell this story now, because it says so much about the competitor and player Spoon was. For four seasons at USM and then 13 in the NBA, he gave it all he had to give for every second he was in a game.

He did not take plays off.

In my mind, he is the greatest basketball player in USM history: a four-time All-Metro Conference, three-time Metro Conference Player of the Year back when the Metro rivaled any conference in the land. Hall of Famer Nick Revon was a fabulous player. So was Hall of Famer Wendell Ladner. But Spoon did more against better competition than any player who ever wore the black and gold.

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