That Wilson jumped right over Vaughn isn't hard to believe when you consider that Wilson has an astounding 51½-inch vertical leap. At Midnight Madness last month, Wilson attempted to break the Guinness world record for "vertical height dunk." Five times he tried unsuccessfully to dunk on an 11'7⅞" basket (the record, set by Joey Johnson in 1990, is seven-eighths of an inch lower), though several of the attempts barely rimmed out. (Wilson says he had thrown down a few at that height in practice the day before.)
Wilson is the showstopper on the most athletic team in the nation, a bunch that set a school record with 177 dunks last season. The star of the show is 6'11" center Lorenzen Wright, one of the country's top freshmen in 1994-95, who will dominate now that Vaughn is gone. Senior guard Mingo Johnson established himself as the leading outside threat last season, converting 72 three-pointers, including five treys in his 32-point game against Arkansas in the NCAA tournament, a bitter five-point loss in overtime.
Memphis was especially tough at home last season, going 17-0 at the Pyramid. The joint should be jumping again this year.
Are the Huskies in danger of being overshadowed by the women's team?
There is a subtle rivalry between UConn men's coach Jim Calhoun and women's coach Geno Auriemma that school president Harry Hartley recently described as "dynamic tension." Both coaches are strong-willed leaders who arrived in Storrs nine months apart in the mid-'80s and built their programs from scratch. Last season Auriemma produced an undefeated team and a national title. Meanwhile, Calhoun is the head of a program that has gone to the NCAA tournament 18 times without a trip to the Final Four, an NCAA record UConn shares with BYU. That will only make the tension more dynamic.
Calhoun, however, dismisses the notion that he resents the success of the women's program. "Since I came here, my teams have filled a lot of shelf space in the trophy case and danced in a lot of big dances," he says. "Now we have a partner." But the question remains: Can Calhoun take the Huskies to the big dance?
The men's Final Four drought could end this season, thanks to the return of player of the year candidate Ray Allen, one of the few '95 super sophs who did not flee to the NBA. Allen, a 6'5" guard-forward, is coming off a productive summer in which he dominated the World University Games in Japan, scoring 15.6 points a game. Senior point guard Doron Sheffer is also back to feed Allen, but the Huskies could be soft on the boards, where they hope a Knight (Travis) and a King (Kirk) can keep opponents in check. Another banner recruiting class, led by 6'5" Connecticut player of the year Rashamel Jones, will provide depth.
As always, there will be sellout crowds at Gampel Pavilion lustily cheering on the Huskies, and Calhoun believes that there is plenty of Huskymania for both the men and the women. "I know who my enemy is," says Calhoun. "It is John Thompson. It is Jimmy Boeheim. It is not Geno Auriemma."
10. Wake Forest