Lawrence Funderburke is a very intelligent and misunderstood individual.
And of course, the same can be said of former Indiana coach Bob Knight.
But that didn’t mean they were a good game when Funderburke chose to play Indiana in 1989. And it didn’t take long to confirm they weren’t.
Barely six games into his freshman season at IU, the Columbus, Ohio product, 6-foot-9, averaged 11.7 points and 6.7 rebounds for the 1989-90 Hoosiers. But that was all. He left the program and dropped out of school.
After a dispute over granting Funderburke a release from IU, he eventually landed at the alma mater of Knight, Ohio State, where he had three productive seasons and then an eight-year career in the NBA.
But even during his brief stint at Bloomington, Funderburke apparently managed to dissuade one of the most talented players in the class of 1991 from even considering Indiana.
In a radio interview with Dan Patrick on Wednesday, former Michigan star Chris Webber shared the story of the day he visited Indiana.
Webber came to IU as a guest of his visiting high school teammate. Growing up in Detroit, the eventual McDonald’s All-American was familiar with Indiana and Knight.
“I was a Big Ten fan, so I wanted to meet Bobby Knight, and I couldn’t believe he could look me in the eye. He was tall and tall and wore that red sweater and everything,” Webber said. to Patrick. “So I’m lucky enough to walk into that locker room, and they’re all crammed in, Calbert Cheaney and all. And I had a hat, and the guys (from Indiana) was like ‘you better take that hat off or Bobby Knight is going to come over here and slap your head’, scaring me, teasing me, I don’t know what is happening.
“And then I realize they’re joking, and I think that’s sweet, I like the way the arena the way the seats go up to the top. It’s cool here. And Funderburke does like that (gestures no with his hands while shaking his head from side to side) and the coach comes in and he’s like that (sits up straight with arms out to sides).
“And then the next year he transferred, so he saved me from thinking about Indiana.”
Knight knew he was taking a chance with Funderburke, but he saw something in the brilliant child of a difficult upbringing.
“There is something out there that is definitely worth working on,” he said when Funderburke signed in 1989.
This turned out to be true.
Funderburke graduated magna cum laude in 1994 from Ohio State Business School and has made millions playing professional basketball.
And he may have helped change the course of college basketball history, discouraging Webber from considering IU and keeping the infamous Michigan Fab Five in tact. As it turns out, current Michigan coach Juwan Howard was the first of the Fab Five to enlist, and he helped bring Webber to Ann Arbor.
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