THE LAST time Ken Mink (right) played college basketball, the Lions were an NFL powerhouse and Casey Stengel was about to manage the Yankees to a 17th World Series title. That was 1956, and Mink was a 20-year-old freshman guard at Lees College. On Nov.¬†3 Mink, now 73, will finally begin his sophomore season, as a shooting guard for the Roane State Raiders in Harriman, Tenn. "Ken contacted us about taking a look at him, and I was interested," said coach Randy Nesbit. "I've always been one to say yes right away and worry about the details later."
Mink's first college career came to an end when he was made the scapegoat for a team prank and expelled from Lees, in Jackson, Ky. "Someone sprayed shaving cream in the coach's shoes, and I was wrongly accused," he says. Mink then joined the Air Force. He later settled in Knoxville, Tenn., and became a newspaper editor.
He also kept playing hoops: pickup games at the YMCA and state Senior Olympics tournaments. While shooting baskets this summer, Mink concluded he was still the deadeye he was in the '50s, and he wrote to eight local community colleges asking for a tryout.
Nesbit gave him a shot, and he says Mink--who at 6¬†feet and 198 pounds is an inch shorter than he was in his prime--learned the Raiders' offense quickly and may get playing time in blowouts. Mink won't outrun anyone or shatter any backboards (his 40 time is 6.6 seconds; his vertical leap is 20 inches), but he's a good shooter with a nifty hook shot. He's also carrying a full course load, including a U.S. history class covering the period through the Civil War. "Some of the students ask me whether I remember those times," he says. --Rebecca Shore
Footing the Bill
IT DOESN'T get much better for a college student than free rent, so Matt Williams had to be feeling good on Sept.¬†20. At halftime of Texas Tech's win over UMass, Williams, a sophomore, took part in a kicking contest sponsored by the owners of a Lubbock apartment complex. Williams nailed a 30-yard field goal to win a month's free¬†rent.
That wasn't the end of Williams's good fortune. After Red Raiders kickers missed six PATs in their first seven games, coach Mike Leach invited Williams to work out, and to travel with the team to Kansas last Saturday. Leach sent him out for extra points after all nine of Tech's TDs in a rout of the Jayhawks. Williams didn't miss one. Said Leach, "I thought it was easy compared to the kick that got him free rent."
SAUL YOUNG/KNOXVILLE NEWS SENTINEL (MINK)
KEN LEVINE/GETTY IMAGES (WILLIAMS)