Excellent long-form story on Hank Gathers, posted today at The Athletic, by Senior Writer Michael Lee


The excerpt below details how Gathers (and teammate Bo Kimble) ended up playing for Paul Westhead at LMU:

After one year at USC, Gathers and Kimble were forced to play elsewhere after George Raveling was hired and stripped them of their scholarships (Raveling wanted his own players). The night before they were forced to make a decision, Gathers and Kimble argued over dinner about what they should do. Gathers didn’t want to go, but Kimble felt the deal-breaker for him was when Raveling repeatedly called him “Hank” in their initial meeting. Kimble spotted Gathers on campus the next day and Gathers was distraught after having received a letter telling him that he needed to go elsewhere to continue playing college basketball.

He’s got his look like, this expression on his face like he lost his dog or his puppy, like the dog ran away,” said Kimble. “He’s like, ‘Yo, man, did you get your letter?’ What are you talking about? What letter? I was like, ‘I didn’t get no letter.’ And he showed me his. It said that his scholarship wasn’t going to be renewed if he didn’t make a decision right away. And I had already told him, ‘Look I’m gone. I’m going to pass these Finals and I’m going to go wherever I want to go.’ Because I was being recruited by everybody. I wasn’t worried about it. That’s when we decided. It was hilarious to me. I said, ‘I guess we’re not staying now.’ He was really impacted by that big time. He was not happy to get the letter. To me, it didn’t matter because I was gone.

Neither wanted to leave the West Coast. Father Hagan, the priest who provided mentorship and guidance for kids in North Philadelphia and was close with Gathers and Kimble, recommended they consider Loyola Marymount. Hagan knew Westhead’s wife, Cassie, and thought the school would be a decent fit for them. Westhead showed them film of the style of play that he ran. Gathers and Kimble looked on in amazement and were sold. Sort of. As they walked out of Westhead’s office, Gathers stopped to make sure what he had just seen was legit.

“Hey, Coach, you’re from Philly. I’m from Philly Don’t try to hustle us. You did something to this film, you doctored it up,” Westhead recalls Gathers telling him. “I said, ‘No, that’s how we play.’ They said, ‘If that’s how you play, we’re coming.’ That was my first introduction to Hank. He was always straightforward. They wanted to play as fast. They wanted to demonstrate their skills. It was me waiting to find people that wanted to play fast and they looked at me like, ‘You got us.’ It was the perfect moment to come together. They fit.”