North Carolina coach had unusual recruiting experience recruiting Jimmy Dan Conner

Former UK star Jimmy Dan Conner with John Herndon. (Stephanie Herndon Photo)


John Herndon is the former sports editor of the Anderson News in Lawrenceburg who recently retired. He covered Anderson County sports for years and certainly heard plenty of stories about former UK basketball standout Jimmy Dan Conner, including this one I had never heard before.

“When he was a senior at Anderson County, everyone thought he was going to UK but that wasn’t really a given he later told me,” Herndon said. “North Carolina, Duke and Florida were really on him.

“(North Carolina coach) Dean Smith sent one of his assistants to visit. Jimmy Dan had a new Jeep and he wanted the coach to go for a ride with him. They went out in the country and there is a place in Anderson County where the road just goes into the Salt River.

‘The water was up that day and Jimmy Dan’s jeep stalled in the river. He had to go get some help and left the coach sitting there. The legend around Lawrenceburg always was it was Dean Smith, but Jimmy Dan told me it was his assistant.”

Conner , Kentucky’s 1971 Mr. Basketball, scored 1,009 points in three seasons from 1972-75 and also had 344 rebounds and 264 assists. He was a career 50 percent shooter from the field. He was also an academic All-American.

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