Athletes whose likenesses appear on the cover of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED usually are stars whose ascendancy has been established in adult competition, but we also keep a constant watch on the arenas of the less mature. Our hope, of course, is to spot some special glow on the sporting horizon that means a new star is about to rise. Such a glow has been cast by young Tom McMillen, the high school basketballer from Mansfield, Pa. who appears on this week's cover and whose story is told by Peter Carry on pages 28-31.
Many successful athletes, among them Arthur Ashe, Lew Alcindor, Bob Beamon, Jerry Lucas, Terry Bradshaw, Calvin Murphy and Jim McDaniels, were singled out for notice by SI while they were still in high school and mentioned with pictures in the section we call FACES IN THE CROWD (page 65). But only a few precollege athletes besides McMillen have made the cover. They include Olympic figure skater Carol Heiss (Feb. 2, 1955); archer Ann Marston (Aug. 8, 1955); swimmers Chris von Saltza (July 21, 1958) and Becky Collins (July 13, 1959); golf's Judy Torluemke (Aug. 21, 1961); Olympic swimmer Donna de Varona (April 16, 1962); world-record miler Jim Ryun (Sept. 14, 1964); six-time Olympic swimming-medalist Don Schollander (Oct. 5, 1964); female track stars Janell Smith and Marie Mulder (May 10, 1965); and All-America basketballer Rick Mount (Feb. 14, 1966), who first appeared on our cover wearing a Lebanon, Ind. high school letter jacket.
Like Mount, Tom McMillen was first brought to the attention of the editors as a possibility for FACES. John Travers, our correspondent in Harrisburg, Pa., told us about McMillen, a young man who had pumped in 1,855 points for his team during his first 2½ high school seasons. This scoring pace was higher than that of any other Pennsylvania schoolboy player and high enough to engage the attention of SI's basketball editor, Andrew Crichton. Crichton sent Carry over to Mansfield to watch McMillen at work.
Carry was impressed by McMllen's skill the first time he saw him play and even more so at a later date when he dared to play against Tom in a scrub game and ended up with a sprained ankle.
February 16, 1970
On subsequent visits with McMillen, the writer found much besides mere skill in basketball to impress him about Tom and his remarkable family. All of these qualities seem certain in time to make Tom's name and face as readily familiar to our readers as those of some of the other graduates of FACES IN THE CROWD.