Jack Twyman's tale deserves to be told once more

Mike Huguenin

Jack Twyman died Wednesday at age 78.

Unless you're a hard-core basketball fan, you probably never have heard of Twyman, who graduated from Cincinnati in 1955 as the school's leading career scorer (1,598 points) and rebounder (1,242). He now is ninth in points and second in rebounds.

 Twyman averaged 24.6 points and 16.5 rebounds as a senior, when he was named an All-American. Twyman played 11 seasons in the NBA with the Royals' franchise, first in Rochester, N.Y., then in Cincinnati. Twyman was a six-time All-Star and retired in 1966 with career averages of 19.2 points and 6.6 rebounds. He worked as an ABC broadcaster in the 1970s and was inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame in 1983.

But Twyman's true lasting legacy is the incredible compassion he showed for NBA teammate Maurice Stokes.

Stokes played just three seasons in the NBA, but they were glorious. He was a first-round pick, No. 2 overall, out of little St. Francis (Pa.) in 1955, and he was an All-Star in each of his three seasons with the Royals.

Stokes was incredibly strong yet also athletic, and he was a rebounding machine. He averaged 16.7 rebounds per game over his three-year career, to go along with 15.8 points and 5.1 assists.

"Maurice Stokes was Magic Johnson before there was a Magic Johnson," Boston Celtics legend Red Auerbach once said. And former Celtics guard Bob Cousy once told reporters that Stokes was "the first great, athletic power forward. He was Karl Malone with more finesse."

Stokes' career was cut short because of a freak accident during a 1958 regular-season game. Three days after he hit his head on the floor and suffered a concussion, Stokes, then 24, collapsed and was left bedridden with a brain injury. Twyman became Stokes' legal guardian – after Stokes was injured, his contract eventually was voided and he had no insurance – and helped care for Stokes until he died in 1970.

Twyman lobbied heavily for Stokes' induction into the Hall of Fame, and his efforts paid off in 2004. Twyman accepted the honor on Stokes' behalf, saying, "Whatever I've done for Maurice, I've gained tenfold."

Hoop talk

• So we now know Anthony Davis will be playing his pro ball in New Orleans. He is going to be the second Kentucky player taken first overall in the NBA draft in the past three years; John Wall went No. 1 in 2010. Sort of surprising: No other UK player ever has gone No. 1 overall.

• We missed this, unfortunately, when it first came out. The soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets and Houston Rockets teamed up in mid-May to hold a group workout with 44 prospects. The idea was to invite players who could go late in the first round or in the second round. Stanford F Josh Owens, who is 6-feet-8 and averaged 11.8 points for the NIT champion-Cardinal this past season, led the way with a 41-inch vertical leap, incredible for a guy his height. From the "Gee, who woulda thunk it?" department: The heaviest player was Mississippi State F Renardo Sidney, who tipped the scales at 304 pounds and couldn't finish his workout.

• Former Virginia Tech F J.T. Thompson, who has missed each of the past two seasons with torn ACLs, will finish up his college career at Charlotte. Thompson missed the 2010-11 season with an injured left knee, then missed the 2011-12 season with an injured right knee. He has one season of eligibility remaining. Truthfully, Thompson is nothing more than a role player, but you have to give the guy credit for his perseverance.

• OK, which school is the outlier in this group: Baylor, Maryland, Kentucky, Villanova and SMU. SMU? Those five schools, as well as many others, are in the running for 2013 recruits Aaron and Andrew Harrison, twins from Fort Bend, Texas, near Houston. Both are considered top-five recruits nationally in the 2013 class, and while they're unlikely to choose SMU, their consideration of the Mustangs is because of new coach Larry Brown.

• One top-50 player in the 2013 class made his decision Wednesday, with PG Nigel Williams-Goss of powerhouse Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep choosing Washington. One of the other finalists was Harvard, which has signed a national top-150 player in each of the past two recruiting cycles. In addition, F Zena Edosomwan, who is transferring from North Hollywood (Calif.) Harvard-Westlake to Northfield (Mass.) Mount Hermon for a post-grad season, already is a 2013 commitment. He was a top-150 player in the class of 2012 before reclassifying to 2013.

• Illinois is looking for a new assistant after Isaac Chew left after less than two months on the job to take a similar position at Marquette. One of the names that has cropped up as a potential replacement for Chew: Deon Thomas, the coach at Lewis and Clark College (Ill.) who reportedly met with new coach John Groce earlier this spring. Hmmm – Bruce Pearl is without a job, so maybe there's room for him and Thomas on the Illini staff. Chew, by the way, is on his fourth job in a little more than a year. He was an assistant at Murray State until he was hired by new Mizzou coach Frank Haith last spring. He spent last season with the Tigers, moved to Illinois when Groce was hired and now is at Marquette.

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