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    Then & Now: Bill Jackman

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    Then & Now: Bill Jackman

    Compiled By Dave Brandon

    (Photo Courtesy NU Media Relations)

    Bill%20Jackman.jpgBill

    Jackman is a native of Grant, Nebraska, and played for

    the Huskers from 1985-1987. The former forward is one of

    the most heralded recruits the state of Nebraska has

    ever produced, as he signed and played one season with

    Duke before transferring to NU. The former Academic

    All-Big 8 performer played a key role on both the

    1985-1986 NCAA Tournament team, and the 1986-1987 NIT

    team.

    HHC recently caught up with Jackman,

    who is our latest guest in this Sunday’s edition of

    “Then & Now.”

    HHC: Bill, thanks a

    lot for taking the time to join us. Before we get into

    the interview, we have to set the record straight – were

    you 6’8”, as some of the media guides say, or 6’9”, as

    others say?

    BJ: I’m officially 6’8 and a ½, so split

    the difference. (Laughs) Different media guides have

    picked different things.

    HHC: (Laughs)

    Alright, now that we’ve got that straight, let’s dig in.

    You played high school basketball at Perkins County High

    School, and helped lead your team to a 78-4 record,

    along with two Class C state titles. However, as an

    individual player, do you feel that the medium level

    class hurt your development at all for Division One

    basketball, or is that claim overrated?

    BJ: I think it did

    from a competition standpoint. On a game in game out

    basis, you prepare for guys at the level you play at,

    and not only that, but you get used to and trained in a

    reactive way of how the officials will call the games.

    In general, from an offensive

    standpoint, I thought it was a disadvantage playing at

    that level at the time, but turned out to be … Well, at

    Grant, they didn’t let us in the high school gyms to

    practice, because they didn’t want kids tearing up the

    gyms. So, we always had to play outside. My practice

    arena was my court at home, my driveway. And then we’d

    play in the park all the time, and because you couldn’t

    play in the gym, and whenever you did during the season,

    it was a special thing. So, there was something special

    about it during the season. So that didn’t hurt me as

    much, it was just the quickness of the game that was a

    lot different.

    In general, so many of those who

    are great in high school at a sport aren’t in college,

    and that’s because they didn’t adjust to the speed,

    size, and quickness of the game. And if you don’t

    practice against that or play against it all the time,

    there is way to emulate that, so it’s easy to see why.

    I think that was more evident to me

    AFTER I was in college, because I played against some

    really good players. Speaking of after college, I worked

    for a couple of years, especially after Danny Nee said,

    “you’re a better student than you are athlete.” That

    kind of hurt my basketball ego, because I was an

    academic All-American. So, he said, “No, you’d be better

    off to start your career rather than play basketball,”

    because I was thinking about playing in Europe.

    So I moved to Texas, and after

    spending one year in Austin, got promoted to Houston,

    and started playing basketball since I didn’t know

    anyone. I fell in love with it again like I used to be

    in high school, and I played hours on end. And because

    of that, I kept getting better and better. Then, I

    started playing against some great players in Houston. I

    was playing against Hakeem, Clyde Drexler, Moses Malone,

    guys like that in the summer, along with some European

    pros. And it was something you couldn’t emulate in

    Nebraska.

    Later, I had a chance to go

    overseas and play in Venezuela, Columbia, Mexico, Spain,

    etc., and after playing and competing at such a high

    level in Houston, and playing that level for three

    years, it made the speed of the game that much easier

    for me.

    So, if you play against a top level

    all the time, you learn to compete at that level, and

    then it becomes easier when you play against others. So

    playing against that higher competition makes you a much

    better player. So yes, to answer your question, I think

    the level hurt me a little, because I became much better

    after.

    So the long way to answer is that I

    loved Class C, and I think there are lots of great

    players. But by virtue of playing at that level and that

    speed, and the way the refs called the game, it was

    much, much different from D-1, and hard to emulate that.

    HHC: Your senior season of high school was

    1982, and was one of the best years in Nebraska history.

    Besides producing yourself and former teammate Dave

    Hoppen, the state also produced Vic Lazzaretti and Kerry

    Trotter, who both played at Marquette, and Ron Kellogg,

    who went on to play at Kansas.

    Do you feel it was pure

    coincidence that so many gifted players came out at

    once, or was there something to that?

    BJ:

    No, I think it was just coincidence. I think growing up

    on the average year, you had 1 or 2 major D-1 players

    from Nebraska. And coincidentally that year (1982), we

    had 7 or 8. Plus, in addition to those major D-1 guys,

    you had people like Dana Janssen, who was the all-time

    leading scorer at Wesleyan, who wasn’t mentioned in the

    same breath, but should have been. Then you had Bart

    Kofoed, who played at Westside, and he wasn’t like a

    Dean Thompson Westside, but he went to Hastings one or

    two years, then ended up in Kearney. Then, he played in

    the NBA for several years.

    The

    talent level that year was unbelievable. Rising tides

    raise all ships; I think the same think happens in

    athletic levels like that. Kerry Trotter and Ron Kellogg

    were just at such a high level. When I was a sophomore,

    Kellogg was the first guy I’d ever known that was a

    super stater as a sophomore. But because he was so good,

    it made Trotter that good, and it made everyone raise

    their level of game.

    So, I

    think you see that at all levels, and that’s why college

    basketball recruiting is so important. You get one great

    player who rises, like (Waymon) Tisdale at Oklahoma, and a guy like that just raises the teams level,

    and everyone wants to play with him, and it makes their

    team so much better.

    HHC: You were

    ranked as one of the nation’s forty best high school

    basketball players your senior season, and this lead to

    you signing with Duke. What made you choose the Blue

    Devils?

    BJ: Coach K. Duke was and still is a

    tremendous program. And at that time, it had gone

    through a couple years of slowness with a new coach.

    Nobody had heard of him, and he was a new guy and

    unknown. But he was just such a tremendous recruiter. He

    answered all our questions, he was a guy you could

    trust, and in fact, he was the “go to guy” for us.

    A lot of

    recruiters came out to Grant, and as it turned out, we

    asked him many questions and used him as a sounding

    board. And he was a guy I could trust. At the time, my

    father had passed away the summer before my senior year,

    so in a sense, he was a father to me. And like most

    great recruiters do, they recruit the Mom’s, and let

    them know that when their sons go away, they will take

    care of them.

    He’s

    turned out to be exactly like that, and not just with

    me, but with guys like Danny Ferry, Johnny Dawkins,

    Christian Laetner, etc. Just a tremendous coach and guy.

    HHC: Did Moe Iba come close to landing you

    out of high school?

    BJ: Yeah, that was my second choice. I

    loved Nebraska. I think the difference was that Coach K

    was just a terrific recruiter. He said, “We’re

    recruiting these 6 players, and here’s where I see you

    fitting in. We’re not going to recruit another small

    forward, and if you do what we think you can do, we

    don’t need to recruit another one at your position.”

    They had

    watched me at several camps, but Nebraska was my second

    choice at the time.

    HHC: You

    played one season at Duke, in 1982-1983, and even

    cracked the starting lineup a couple of times as a

    freshman. Talk to us about your experience at Duke, and

    what you remember most about it?

    BJ: It was a great experience, because I

    played with some great players. My freshman year was the

    #1 recruiting class in the nation, with (Johnny)

    Dawkins, Mark Alarie, Jay Bilas, etc. And Duke had a

    nice squad of guys who were there at the time. Chip

    England, Tommy Emma, and some nice players who hadn’t

    had a great season the year or two before, but with the

    new coach, there was a lot of potential there.

    HHC: We actually interviewed Jay Bilas,

    your old freshman roommate and current ESPN analyst

    awhile back, and he said that the team was sad to see

    you transfer back to Nebraska. What made you choose this

    decision, and do you have peace with the decision in

    your heart?

    BJ:

    Duke was a great school and I enjoyed the experience.

    It’s a super school with a lot of good people, and I

    still have friends from Duke. I think my decision, most

    of it had to do with my Father passing away right before

    my senior year of high school. That was a bad deal, just

    in the sense that I had two older brothers and two

    younger brothers. The younger one’s were in high school.

    And, my Mom was having a tough time with my Dad’s death,

    and had my dad been living, I’d have known things were

    okay back home. As it was, my Mom came out once, but I

    was studying all the time or practicing. And I tried to

    spend as much time as I could with her, but it was less

    than optimal, which I felt bad about.

    I just

    wanted to go back closer to the family and brothers, and

    I loved Nebraska, I think Nebraska people are super. So,

    I think that was a big decision. Plus, at the time, and

    hindsight is 20-20, but Duke was having a tough year. We

    were 10-17, and I think 11-17 the next year, or

    something like that. We had the #1 recruiting class in

    the nation, but the student newspaper at Duke said,

    “Coach K has had his time, that he was a great recruiter

    but he couldn’t coach.” So, there was a lot of

    instability at Duke.

    And then

    the Durham newspaper picked up on it, and said, “We

    agree with it, we don ‘t think Coach K can coach, and we

    think somebody else will take it to the next level.”

    So at

    the time, I thought maybe there was instability, and

    Nebraska had Dave Hoppen as a freshman, and were going

    to the Final 4 of the NIT. There was a lot of stability

    there, and also, the upperclassman at Duke helped me

    decide, because a lot of them were saying, “You ought to

    transfer, this is not a good ship to be on.” And that

    enhanced my decision a lot.

    And, it

    is what it is. In hindsight, I loved playing at

    Nebraska, but I should have stayed at Duke. And I know

    that, I saw Bilas at the Final 4 last year, and we

    really had a nice chat, and you never know, they were

    talking about that class my freshman year. And three

    years later, had I stayed and been with them, I would

    have gone to the Final 4 and been #1 in the country.

    They beat Kansas in the Final 4 and played against

    Lousiville, losing 72-69 in the finals. I heard it about

    100 times from friends or fraternity brothers at Duke,

    but when Mark Alarie said it, it hit home. He said, “If

    we had you, we would have won the national

    championship.”

    We’ll

    never know, but Alarie and several others have told me

    that they wish I would have stayed. I actually saw Coach

    K six weeks ago here in Dallas. George and Barbara Bush

    were there, along with five best selling authors, and

    one of them was Coach K. So, I saw his wife and

    daughter, and I gave them all a big hug and just chatted

    with them, and it was great to see them again.

    He’s

    created something very, very special there at Duke. He

    invited me back to play and be a part of their 20-year

    reunion for the class of 1986. He said, “You didn’t

    graduate with that team, but you ought to come back and

    be a part of it.” They’ve really created a Duke

    basketball family, and a lot of places talk about it,

    but they really do have something special and do it

    there.

    Having

    said all that, at Nebraska I had some great years, and I

    loved my time there.

    HHC: And we’d like to delve into that now!

    Your first season on the court at Nebraska was

    1984-1985, and you guys finished 16-14, along with a

    nice run in the NIT. Individually, would you agree that

    the season was kind of a roller-coaster ride for you, as

    far as starting strong and finishing strong?

    BJ: Yes. It was a sophomore year for me,

    and my redshirt year had been terrific, because I got

    really strong. But that year was up and down for me

    personally, and after it, I was really looking forward

    to the last two year’s of playing. We had some nice

    talented players to look forward to.

    HHC: 1985-1986 was a memorable year in

    Nebraska basketball history, as it marked the first

    modern day NCAA Tournament appearance for the Huskers.

    Before we talk about this, we’d like to get your

    thoughts on the “illegal practice” that took place at

    Mabel Lee Hall. What do you remember about it?

    BJ: No comment. (Laughs)

    HHC: Ahh, fine! (Laughs) Now, onto

    brighter things. In that same season of 1985-1986, you

    guys won 19 games, and made the NCAA Tournament for the

    first time in school history. How rewarding was that

    season for you, especially considering the adversity

    that the team had to overcome with the Dave Hoppen

    injury and Moe Iba job speculation? 

    BJ: Unfortunately, that was the year I

    didn’t play much. We were very happy as a team, and I

    tried to do everything I could to help support the team.

    But I played some at the beginning, and I came off the

    bench there in mid-season, but then late in the year, I

    just didn’t play at all. That was the same year people

    were telling and screaming to put me in, and the more

    they did, the less I played. So that was frustrating,

    and it really tested me.

    It was

    kind of the middle of the road, as far as what am I made

    of? There was never a doubt in my mind to quit or

    anything, but the next year, when I played and we had a

    great year, a lot of people said, “I’m glad you stuck in

    there and hung with it.” But to me, it was part of it.

    Hopefully you play a lot, but sometimes you don’t. And

    if you don’t, you can only do the things you can

    control. And that was one of the things I couldn’t

    control.

    I

    respected him (Moe Iba) and his decision, but it was a

    tough year, no doubt about it. And what made it really

    difficult was that our team was doing well and I wasn’t

    playing at all. At the same time, my class at Duke,

    where I would have been a senior, was #1 at midseason,

    and #1 the rest of the year, winning the ACC

    Tournament. 

    So all

    that was very difficult, because a lot of people would

    remind me of it. I loved Nebraska and liked the people

    though, and I know that God had a purpose for it.

    HHC: We talked

    to Moe Iba awhile back, and he told us that he was

    forced to resign by people not directly associated with

    the basketball program. With this in mind, did his

    resignation following the first-round tournament loss to

    Western Kentucky surprise you, or were you guy’s kind of

    expecting it?

    BJ: He was forced out then, huh?

    HHC: That’s what he told us!

    BJ:

    Wow… Well, I think we were surprised by his resignation

    because he had taken the team the farthest it had ever

    been. We make the big dance after high expectations, and

    then they let the coach go. I think it shocked

    everybody.

    He’s a

    good man, Moe is, and he knows basketball. His Dad was a

    terrific coach and leader, and his Dad would show up at

    practices periodically, and was a joy to be around. Moe

    knew his basketball. A friend of mine from Duke was a

    shooting coach in the NBA for awhile, and he used to be

    Grant Hill’s shooting coach. But, he used to see Coach

    Iba, who scouted for the (Detroit) Pistons for awhile,

    and he’d always say how good of a man he was. And, I ran

    into the Athletic Director from Texas Tech last night,

    Gerald Myers, and we talked a little bit. We played

    against them several times at Texas Tech, and he’s good

    friends with Moe, and I know that all of the old coaches

    have a lot of respect for him.

    He did

    things the right way, and was an honest guy who

    recruited players the right away. It was unfortunate

    that things happened that way, because we had just lost

    that game in Charlotte, and he told us that it was his

    last game, and that he wasn’t going to be coaching

    anymore. It was just kind of a somber mood over the

    team, you know? The season’s over, and it was just a

    somber mood for everybody. And I know there was a lot of

    uncertainty among the coaches, and it was just a tough

    period.

    HHC: Your

    senior season of 1986-1987 was the first year of the

    Danny Nee era. Before we talk about the season in depth,

    talk to us about what the transition of coaches was

    like. Was it difficult to change systems before your

    last season?

    BJ:

    No, not at all. My motivation was that I wanted to play,

    and whatever it took, I wanted to play. So, I worked

    out, worked out some more and then ran and lifted. And

    I’d go play in the playgrounds, and just keep playing. I

    tried to do whatever it took to be out on the court,

    because I knew what it was like to ride the pine and I

    didn’t like that.

    HHC: In your own words, describe what kind

    of coach and man Danny Nee was?

    BJ: Danny was fun; he opened up the game.

    He was fun to play for, and such a motivational coach. I

    think he knows his basketball, but he knows players and

    how to motivate them even better than that. He tried to

    individually motivate them by what made them tick.

    He was a

    very disciplined coach, although I know that things

    changed later, but he was very disciplined at that time,

    and we needed that. We’d come from this season of

    disarray, and there was a lot of frustration in the

    system. The fans were tired of 7 passes and shoot a bad

    shot, and getting beat 45-40. They wanted to see

    basketball. I think everyone felt constrained in the

    system, because it was just too much of a noose. And as

    a shooter, which I am and was, you’ve got to let

    shooters just shoot the ball. You just do, you just pick

    the best ones out and let them shoot.

    I

    remember we played UCLA my sophomore year in the NIT,

    with Reggie Miller and all of those guys. And the score

    was like 10-8, and I had 3 of our first 4 baskets, or

    something like that. And I was 3 for 3, but I missed a

    shot, and he took me out, and he never played me the

    rest of the game. Period. And Danny Nee said just the

    opposite. He’d say, “Jackman, you’re a shooter, so shoot

    the ball. Then shoot again and shoot again. If you miss

    it, so what?”

    And that

    kind of shocks you after you kind of get trained a

    certain way, but that’s the way basketball should be

    played. So, it was so much fun to play for him.

    I

    remember one of the first days of practice he told us

    that we had to do things right both on the basketball

    court and in the classroom. If you missed class, you’d

    have to get up and run for an hour at 6 A.M. And 4 or 5

    guys missed class, and they did in fact run for an hour,

    and then we had to practice later that day. So, you

    learn quickly not to miss class.

    But what

    happens is if you have a disciplined system, which Danny

    did at the time, it rewards people for doing the right

    thing. And we did a lot of things as a team. In the

    summer, we all stayed in Lincoln, working in the

    morning, and then in the afternoon we ran and lifted

    together. We just did things together and got to know

    each other. We had never done that before.

    In

    reality, we didn’t have that talented of a team. Sure,

    we had some nice players, but we didn’t have a center on

    that team. I’m not a center, I’m a natural 3. You had

    very good players in (Brian) Carr, (Bernard) Day, and

    then you had everybody else. Anthony Bailous was a

    terrific athlete, Henry T. Buchanan, Derrick Vick, Joel

    Sealer, Mike Martz, and everyone. We totally gelled as a

    team.

    So that

    was really, really fun, but it was fun basketball, so

    that’s not surprising. You get rewarded for the right

    things. If it’s the fist pass and you shoot a good shot,

    so what? If you make a bad pass, so what? We’ll stop

    them on the defensive end. As a player, you want to be

    motivated and rewarded, and really just mix it up. It

    was just really a fun brand of basketball, so that

    carries over into all the practices.

    I know

    they made a big deal out of practices and how

    motivational they were, but they were just fun. In the

    past, it was every man for himself, but when Danny came,

    they put you on a line, and if one of the team members

    missed a free throw shot at the end of practice, you

    ran. If you hit both shots, you didn’t have to run, and

    you could go back to the locker room. And I’ll tell you,

    that last season, half the time, we’d stay until the

    very end until the very last guy made his free throws.

    Things

    like that create so much togetherness and teamwork, and

    not just from the guys who make their shots, but from

    people who miss. They see that “Hey, we are in the fox

    hole together, we’re charging together.” And trust me,

    that meant a hell of a lot.

    We went

    to dinner together, we partied together, and that

    carried over to the Beau Reid’s and guys like that who

    carried that on for a little while. We had a fun year,

    and we weren’t the most talented team, but we won some

    games we shouldn’t have won because of hard work and

    good coaching and a little bit of luck.

    HHC: On the

    court, 1986-1987 proved to be a huge success, as you

    guys finished 21-12 and went deep into the NIT.

    Individually, you led the team in rebounding, and were

    selected to the Academic All-Big 8 team. Talk to us

    about what you remember most of your senior season at

    Nebraska?

    BJ:

    While at Nebraska, I built a lot of character, and have

    lots of great memories, especially of that senior

    season. It was classic, we went to New York, and this is

    in the Holiday Tournament up in Rochester. And I think

    it was Butler, Rochester, Nebraska, and somebody else

    (San Francisco). And it wasn‘t a big tournament, but it

    was Nebraska’s first win of a tournament, I think ever.

    Or if not, in 40 years or something.

    But just

    the fact that we won, and the drinking age was 18, and

    Coach Nee just bought us a case of beer. (Laughs) And he

    was from New York, so he said, “You guys have to have

    some Ale, because that’s what we drink here.” And we

    told him that we wanted to party with the trophy.

    I still

    have pictures of Keith Neubert drinking out of this big

    trophy. And Danny Nee came in and said, “That’s awesome

    guys, rock on.” I told coach the trophy would be in the

    case the next 100 years and never be touched again, but

    tonight, we were partying with it. And he was totally

    cool with it.

    That

    year was also great with the NIT trip to New York City,

    which we really earned by beating Marquette, Washington,

    and Arkansas. And we were just on such a high, and I

    know that in the past, teams would go (to the NIT finals

    in New York) and have a difficult time practicing and

    hate the trip. But Coach Nee said, “Guys, you earned

    this trip, so have fun, and practice isn‘t until

    tomorrow.”

    So we

    had all day and all night to enjoy what we earned. And

    what a thrill for him to coach at Madison Square Garden,

    and for us players to play there. We didn’t do the

    Hoosiers thing where they do the tape thing, but he

    said, “Stop, and come here to center court. Look around,

    there’s Bill Bradley’s banner, there’s Walt Frazier’s,

    and there’s World Championships. I grew up here, and

    this is the place guys, nothing is better than this. But

    also, look at the baskets, they are both 10 feet. So

    remember that it’s the garden, but its normal

    basketball.”

    So its

    kind of what he did, saying it’s a special place, but

    it’s not unlike the Devaney Sports Center. So things

    like that made things fun and very memorable.

    HHC: We were

    going to ask for a Danny Nee story to add to our list,

    but you’ve already done that for us! We love that guy.

    BJ: Oh yeah, definitely, I liked Danny a

    lot. And over the course of his career, and he and I

    have talked about this, but I was sad to hear that the

    discipline broke down. And I’ve been asked many times

    what his issue was, and I don’t really know, but I had

    heard about different players saying they were tired and

    not practicing on that day, and it punishes other guys

    for doing the right thing. And when the system breaks

    down, all hell breaks loose, no matter how good of

    players you have.

    They had

    some really nice players that wanted to play hard, but

    just had some real bad apples on their teams. I wasn’t

    there, but from what I hear, it sounds like they didn’t

    manage those guys that well. They wanted to win so much

    that the system broke down. The best programs make the

    rising tides raise all ships and do the right thing, and

    its unfortunate that happened there.

    HHC: When was

    the last time you talked to Danny?

    BJ: We had a great conversation his last

    year (1999-2000). I called him up, and hadn’t had a

    heart to heart with him in a long time, so he and his

    wife and I all went to dinner. I thanked him for the

    discipline he instilled in us, because he was hard on

    us, but he was caring, as opposed to being a tough guy

    who didn’t give a crud about you. He would say, “Son, I

    believe in you, that’s why I’m yelling at you, and

    that’s why you’re going to run.” And that motivates you

    to do more. My friends who have played with Coach K over

    the years, that’s what they say they love about Coach K.

    While you’re in the program, it’s very challenging,

    because he’s always pushing you to maximize yourself as

    a basketball player and person. And you appreciate

    yourself more and more out of the program. He doesn’t

    allow you to just get by. And he instills that in you

    the four years that he has you, and it carries over.

    But

    besides that dinner I had with Danny, I also remember

    one time speaking with him at a high school athletic

    banquet. I spoke first, and he went second. And it was

    really good to hear his motivational speech to

    non-players. He just had a lot of wisdom and great

    things to say, but what I liked most was, and it was

    either Grand Island or Kearney, but somebody had dropped

    me off, but I drove back with him to Lincoln.

    I just

    enjoyed talking about life with him that whole drive,

    just as far as what he saw for me in my life and even

    about his life. He was the one responsible for me in a

    good way. He said, “Whatever you do, get a job outside

    of Nebraska. I know you love Nebraska and love the

    people here, but it would be to easy and comfortable for

    you to stay here.” And I said, “But I want to stay

    here.” And he said “But if you stay here, you don’t have

    to be challenged, because people will recognize you, and

    I don’t think they’d know who you are. You need to go to

    a place where nobody knows you, and find out who you

    are. You can always come back, but if you don’t leave

    Nebraska, you’ll never leave. And when you’re older,

    you’ll wish you would have, because when your 35 or 40,

    you won’t have the opportunity to leave because of

    golden handcuffs.”

    When I

    sat down with him and his wife at that dinner years

    later, I was just thankful for that, and I told them

    that, because while it was very challenging going to

    places where I didn’t know anybody, it was character

    building and just kind of helped me figure out who I was

    and what life was about, and the direction I wanted to

    go. And ultimately, it kind of led me to basketball

    again, and it was my choice this time.

    HHC: And

    speaking of that, what has Bill Jackman been doing since

    1987, and where is he at today?

    BJ:

    Well, in 1987 I moved to Texas and worked for a company

    called Data Documents, which was an Omaha based company.

    I worked for them one year in Austin, and two years in

    Houston. And like I said, when I moved to Houston, I had

    been tired of basketball, but I fell in love again with

    basketball there. I started playing two and three times

    a week. And there were some times in the summer where we

    would have 17 or 18 NBA players and just me and another

    guy. I was one of the guys who kind of ran the gym, and

    it was such good basketball, because if you lost, you

    might sit for two hours. So it was a very high level.

    So I did

    that, and then quit my job after a couple NBA players

    said, “You are crazy for not playing anymore. If you hit

    the right team at the right time, you have a chance to

    play in the show.” So I played professionally for a

    couple of years. I tried out with the Houston Rockets,

    and then went to Mexico for six months, New Zealand for

    six months, and tried out with the Omaha Racers. And, I

    played in the Global Basketball League in Lousiville

    Kentucky and Albany Georgia. I played in Columbia,

    Venezuela, and kind of finished in Spain.

    All in

    all, I played with 18 teams in 3 years, but loved it. I

    was single at the time, and just played all the time and

    just stayed in shape. In Columbia, I saw guys who could

    jump out of the gym that were terrific athletes, but I

    knew I could score on them from playing in Houston, and

    it made a difference. I scored 30 a game in New Zealand,

    and sometimes 20 or 25 in Columbia. My goal when I was

    playing was to go as far as I could and see as much of

    the world as I could.

    Like I

    said, the NBA is just another level. In a perfect

    situation, I could have made it, as a shooter and

    scorer, but every team has their shooters and scorers,

    so they weren’t going to call my number.

    After

    that, I was roughly 30, and went to a business school in

    Chicago and got an MBA there. And was in school with two

    of my younger brothers, and went to New York City and

    worked at Goldman Sachs for just over ten years. And

    then I’ve now opened a high net worth office of Morgan

    Stanley. I’m married to a girl from England, Zoe, and

    we’ve been married 11 years with 3 kids, and they are

    all tall.

    HHC: And are

    they going to play at Nebraska?

    BJ: (Laughs) Gonna try. I’m raising them

    on the Huskers. I do still follow the team some, and I

    have some friends that email me, plus I check out the

    scores. And, I’ve met Coach Collier and think he’s a

    great guy, and I want to wish him the best.

    HHC: If we set you up an e-mail account at

    [email protected] , would you be willing

    to take some e-mails from the fans?

    BJ:

    Oh absolutely, I’d love that. I’m glad you guys are

    doing this, because they need that mentality there of

    developing a long term winner and legacy with a coach,

    where you just have one guy there forever. We had it at

    Duke, they have it at North Carolina, and they had it

    there with Osborne.

    But you

    need former players coming back and being coaches in the

    summer at camps, or talking to players before games in

    the locker room, just the old recognizable alumni.

    Utilize them and bring them together as a family, which

    is something I don’t think they’ve done well there.

    But if

    they do things like that, and with recruiting, when they

    recruit a kid, playing an away game just for him at

    least once or twice during his career, it will help a

    ton. Coach K scheduled a game at Colorado just for me,

    Bilas got one out in California against UCLA where he

    was from, etc. Just stuff like that, and I know they

    can’t really do that until they start having a little

    more success, but I really want to see them win and do

    well, and I think this will help a lot, so I’m awfully

    glad you’re doing this and to be a part of it.

    HHC: Great. Thanks a lot for your time

    Bill.

    BJ:

    Thanks again.<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">

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