Congratulations to former Duke big man Randy Denton, who was inducted into the NC Sports Hall of Fame Thursday night.
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He came along at an awkard time - playing one season for Vic Bubas, who he saw as a father figure, then two years for Bucky Waters (freshmen were not eligible for varsity competition then).
The Waters era wasn't easy. Duke's campus had been integrated in the early '60s and the basketball team had begun to do so as well, although not without some difficulties for C.B. Claiborne, who arrived in 1965. Toss in the Vietnam War and the upheavals which swept campuses across the country, and it is easy to see, in retrospect, how hard it was to manage a basketball program.
Incidentally, our Barry Jacobs published the definitive book on basketball integration in the South, Across the Line: Profiles in Basketball Courage: Tales of the First Black Players in the ACC and SEC. It's a tremendous book and if you've never read it, you really should.
It's full of remarkable and sometimes haunting stories and makes clear just how difficult and lonely these men were. We remember Claiborne, for instance, eating at Central a lot and it never seemed to occurr to anyone that having the team banquet at a segregated country club would necessarily mean leaving Claiborne out.
Waters was not a good fit at the time, being a bit militaristic in his approach. At one point, he said players could have hair as long as they wanted - as long as they didn't have to brush it back.
Not a problem for Denton who had one of the better white afros in the game, but there was a lot of friction in the program before Waters resigned prior to the 1974 season.
Long story short, despite the upheavals, Denton excelled and had tremendous stats. He's also a nice man, so we're very happy to see him honored in this way.