Gail Goodrich, who 40 years ago was the leading scorer on UCLA's first two national championship teams, was never going to play college basketball anywhere other than in Los Angeles.
The City Section player of the year after leading Sun Valley Polytechnic High to its first and only section championship in 1961, the scrawny left-hander was recruited by UCLA and -- belatedly and only halfheartedly, he said -- by USC.
His father, Gail Sr., had been USC's basketball captain and an All-West Coast player in 1939, and Goodrich longed to follow in his footsteps.
But the Trojans "weren't really interested," Goodrich said.
Luckily for him, John Wooden was. He had spotted Goodrich almost by accident when Goodrich was a 5-foot-8, 120-pound junior. Wooden, not yet a championship-winning coach, had gone to a Poly game to scout another player but soon identified the undersized but efficient Goodrich as the smartest player on the floor.
"I picked UCLA because I felt that I should go somewhere where I was wanted," said Goodrich, now semi-retired from the golf business, living in Greenwich, Conn., and working as an in-studio analyst for NBA TV. "I went and visited the campus at the beginning of my senior year and watched practice, and if you watch a John Wooden practice you come away very impressed.
"I knew that he would make me a better basketball player."
Perhaps no L.A.-bred player ever accomplished more. He scored 27 and a then-record 42 points in UCLA's first two championship-game victories. Later, he helped the Lakers win their first NBA championship and, after signing as a free agent with the New Orleans Jazz, indirectly helped them win several more, the Lakers using the pick they received as compensation to draft Magic Johnson.
-- Jerry Crowe