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Honorable Draftee: The Case for Hank Gathers E-mail

Hank "The Bank" Gathers
Hank Gathers is often regarded as one of college basketball's most heartfelt players, yet saddest stories. Prior to his untimely death Gathers, along with his fast paced Loyola Marymount team, provided the nation with some of the most exciting displays on the court, breaking traditional playing styles in what past coaches would call uncontrolled. It was this freedom to score at a moment's notice that provided Gathers the opportunity to exhibit his dominance on a regular basis. The Bank, as he was called, usually cashed in on the court with the game on the line and, although dominate, his engaging personality made him extremely likeable to anyone who met him.

Most scouts and GMs in the NBA penciled him as a first round pick for the 1990 NBA Draft. Gathers was most impressive because of his ability to run the floor and use his powerful upper body to establish himself on the glass for tremendous rebounds. Despite playing in a less than dominant conference (WCC), Loyola Marymount played a solid out of conference schedule with the likes of Oregon State, Oklahoma, UNLV, LSU and La Salle, all of whom had solid programs at the time. It was here that Gathers showed that he was more than a small conference star. In his junior season he became the second college player in history to lead the nation in scoring and rebounding. Despite standing at 6-7 Gathers' heart and hustle routinely allowed him to outplay most, including young freshman phenom Shaquille O’Neal where he dropped 42 points and 18 rebounds on the then 7-1, 296 pound future NBA superstar. But Gathers' extraordinary displays would soon take a terrible turn.

The Problem

Six games into Gathers' senior season he fainted during the match-up against UC Santa Barbara. This led him to be off the court for several games while doctors tested him for various ailments. The test results led Gathers to be subscribed beta blockers for what doctors believed was an abnormal heartbeat, but soon after he began complaining from side effects of the Inderal. Gathers was physically sluggish and frustrated with his inability to play at his old level and eventually persuaded his doctors to cut back his dosage. Two weeks later, with his health feeling great, he returned to the court with a passion and looked better than ever.

On March 4, 1990, while playing in the West Coast Conference tournament semifinal against Portland University, point guard Terrell Lowery ran down the court looking to pass to his teammate Gathers. Out of the corner of his eye Lowery saw Gathers with a smile on his face and they both knew what to do - it was a sweet alley-oop pass to the streaking Gathers for a thunderous dunk. The crowd exploded as Gathers and Lowery celebrated while they ran back down the court.

But suddenly, Gathers collapsed and medical personnel rushed in. His body convulsed as fans look on in horror. With no pulse, a defibrillator was used for three consecutive shocks. Doctors at the local hospital worked on Gathers for an hour in hopes that the 23 year old athlete would revive, but he was unresponsive and passed away.

Conclusion

What's so unbelievable about Gathers' tradgedy was the outpouring from many people who never bothered to watch basketball as many tuned in to watch the cinderalla Loyola Marymount run to the Elite eight of the NCAA tournament. Many in the media said that Gathers had the heart of a lion. This could not be more apparent than in the final moments of his life when after collapsing to the floor, by his determination, he still attempted to stand. But the self proclaimed strongest man in the nation was unable to regain his strength. On March 13, 1990 the world
showed Gathers how much he meant to them as over 1,500 mourners packed his church while over 2,000 more stood outside to pay their respects to the man who played the game with all his heart.

The Draft Review applauds Gathers for his collegiate accolades and recognizes him as a player that should have been a part of the 1990 NBA draft class. We include Hank Gathers in our list of honorable draftees.

 

Comments  

 
0 #5 Stormy 2010-04-07 08:31
I remember Hank Gathers, I was just browsing the sites, and came across this one! This was a day we lost one of the great ones! He brought fun and enjoyment to game, what alot of young athletes miss in there style of play now days! I went to a small school and love reading statistics, and I knew and tried to watch every game of Hanks. Always rest in peace HANK!!!
 
 
0 #4 SHAMAR 2009-09-26 20:47
HANK WAS THE MAN
 
 
0 #3 Kyle Keiderling 2009-08-13 19:10
Hank is the subject of my forhtcoming book,HEART OF A LION: The life, death and legacy of Hank Gathers due in November which marks the 20th anniversary of Hank's final season. The website is www.hankgathersbook.com. Hank was an extraordinary human being and should be recalled for his exemplary life. THe LMU Lion's tribute to Hank was a magical, mystical, totally inexplicable run as an 11 seed to the Elite Eight in his honor. Bo Kimble's free throw- left handed- in honor of Hank, remains one of college basketball's most memorable moments.
 
 
0 #2 Henry 2008-07-25 04:39
I have this game on tape to this day I can't watch. RIP Bank :sad:
 
 
0 #1 Elizabeth 2008-07-23 09:09
I was 17 when this happen and didn't follow basketball closely except for UNLV. I didn't follow Hank but remember how tragic this incident was and how heartbroken people were.
 

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