Jay Bilas was a beast in high school. The ESPN college basketball analyst was a double-double machine and became one the nation’s most sought-after recruits as a senior at Rolling Hills High School in California. Among those pursuing the scoring and rebounding machine were Mike Krzyzewski of Duke and Ted Owens of Kansas.
Bilas would ultimately land in Durham and appeared in 127 games, including 106 starts, from 1982-1986 while averaging 8.4 points and 5.4 rebounds for his career. Along with the rest of his loaded 1982 recruiting class, he helped the Blue Devils reach the national title game in 1986. That ’82 group included Johnny Dawkins, Mark Alarie and David Henderson and is still considered one of the best classes of all-time.
Things were significantly different for basketball recruiting in the early 1980’s, starting with the method of communication and simple messages from coaches, as indicated by this letter from Ted Owens to Bilas in 1981:
It is unclear how close KU was to getting Bilas and if Owens’s blunt plea based upon their lack of an inside presence made an impression on Bilas but it shows how far we’ve come over the last few decades. He would also post a letter from Wichita State assistant coach Rick Shore: