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It is highly unusual for me to write to someone who is only a ninth grader, but I did want to take this opportunity to let you know that we have heard many great things about you here at the University of North Carolina. I understand you are an outstanding young man and individual who has great potential in the game of basketball. Let me encourage you to work very hard during your high school career so you may have the opportunity to attend the college of your choice...
Of course we are hopeful you will follow the University of North Carolina basketball program during these years and perhaps one day would be interested in coming to Chapel Hill and become a part of our basketball program.... Keep up the great work!
was 15 years old and flabbergasted. He had just entered the ninth grade at
Hickory (N.C.) High when he received a letter signed by Denny Crum, coach of
the defending NCAA champion Louisville Cardinals.
You have been highly recommended to me as a very outstanding player.... I want to congratulate you on your past achievements....
Washburn's ego soared as he read the words over and over again.
"I didn't know what to make of it," he says. "My ninth-grade season hadn't even begun. So when Coach Crum wrote about my 'past achievements' I suppose he meant my eighth-grade season at Grand View Junior High."
Washburn smiles. "But I was proud of this letter," he says. "I carried it around school in my notebook, took it to all my classes, showed it to all my friends. Then they borrowed it to show to their friends. It was almost like I was a celebrity. A celebrity in the ninth grade."