OHIO STATE CENTER JERRY LUCAS JANUARY 8, 1962

December 02, 1996

Thirty-five years ago, when we named Ohio State center Jerry
Lucas as our Sportsman of the Year, Ray Cave, who wrote the
story, extolled him as "a wholesome example of fitness,
awareness and common sense." Today Lucas is remarkably fit at
age 56, and the awareness and common sense remain in evidence
too.

A three-time All-America, Lucas led the Buckeyes to the 1960
NCAA championship and runner-up finishes in '61 and '62 to
Cincinnati, which hasn't won the NCAAs since but is our pick to
do so this season (page 60). Lucas helped the U.S. win the gold
medal at the 1960 Rome Olympics, played 11 seasons in the NBA
and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1980. He
had other gifts as well. He was Phi Beta Kappa at Ohio State,
and his mnemonic skills were so prodigious that he took to
memorizing large portions of the New York City phone book to
allay the boredom on road trips with the New York Knicks, with
whom he won an NBA championship in 1973. During an appearance on
The Tonight Show in 1972, Lucas wowed Johnny Carson with his
ability to instantly recall the names of audience members whom
he had met just before the show. In 1974 he was a co-author of
The Memory Book, which made it to No. 2 on The New York Times
best-seller list. "A lot of people will come up to me, tap me
on the shoulder and say, 'Who am I?'" Lucas says. "What I always
say to them is, 'If you don't know who you are, how do you
expect me to?'"

Lucas lives with his wife, Cheri, in Templeton, Calif., and
teaches his Lucas Learning System in seminars around the
country. He recently formed a company, Lucas Educational
Systems, Inc., which will publish curricula to teach his
"automatic learning method." Lucas is a scratch golfer and a
regular on the celebrity golf circuit, but he says, "The real
goal of my life is to make a profound impact on education in
America."

Lucas is wistful about a time when, in his view, college
athletics were purer than they are today. He agrees with SI
college basketball writer Alexander Wolff's view that players
who leave school early for the NBA miss college hoops more than
the game misses them (page 54). "Players look at college as a
stopping-off place on their way to the pros," Lucas says. "It's
unfortunate. I look back on my college experience as the most
memorable years of my life."

--Seth Davis

COLOR ILLUSTRATION: PAINTING BY ROBERT WEAVER [Cover of Sports Illustrated featuring painting of Jerry Lucas]

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)