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Original Issue

Walter Luckett, Fabulous Freshman November 27, 1972

When Ohio University guard Walter (Put It in the Bucket) Luckett
showed up at Missouri for his first college game, he encountered
12,600 fans with their noses buried in the magazine shown at
left. The spectators, intent on unnerving him, had targeted
Luckett after reading such hepcat utterances by him as, "They get
the ball to me in our two-guard front and I will positively
freak. I mean, I will drive those rascals wild." The 6'4" Luckett
then made only three of 12 shots against Mizzou. Welcome to
Division I.

"I was young, very young," Luckett says with a laugh. "I was
overly confident." He had gained that assurance by dominating the
rollicking playground scene as the acknowledged King of Nanny
Goat Park in Bridgeport, Conn., and by setting the New England
schoolboy scoring record with 2,691 points--which landed his Kolbe
High jersey in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Despite his rocky debut, Luckett fulfilled his promise at Ohio.
After averaging 25.3 points a game as a junior, the newly
married Luckett--he and his wife, Valita, now live in Hamden,
Conn.--declared for the NBA draft. The Detroit Pistons picked
him in the second round, but because his left knee was becoming
arthritic as the result of a freak injury suffered the summer
before he went to college, he never played in a regular-season
NBA game. "That was one of my heartbreaks," Luckett says. "I
just didn't make it."

Luckett played four seasons of minor league hoops before trading
his basketball career for one in business. He is nearing his 20th
anniversary at Unilever Home and Personal Care U.S.A., a branch
of the Anglo-Dutch consumer-goods conglomerate. Luckett, 46,
directs the firm's charitable efforts as the manager of community
relations and corporate contributions. He was promoted to the
position three years ago after a senior Unilever executive took
note of his long-standing involvement in the African-American
community. The cocksure young man who left college early to
pursue an ill-fated NBA dream now holds an MBA from the
University of New Haven and is part owner of the USBL's
Connecticut Skyhawks.

Though Luckett primarily wears the button-down clothes and
close-cropped hair of a successful businessman these days, he
finds that many Connecticuters still recognize him from his time
as a basketball prodigy in shorts with a prodigious Afro. "It's a
little scary," Luckett says, "but after all these years, it's
nice that people remember you."

--Pete McEntegart



The cocksure young man who left college early is part owner
of the USBL's Connecticut Skyhawks.