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Gotkin should know. He doesn't possess either Kenney's epistolary or athletic versatility, but around New York he is the uncrowned czar of recruiting. Gotkin sees all and knows all.
A man in his middle 50s, "Uncle Harry" Gotkin stood one night last winter in an antiquated YMCA gymnasium in Flushing, an outlying district of New York. His beefy hands were stuffed into the pockets of his brown overcoat. He needed a shave, and his heavy jowls lent an angry expression to his furrowed face. This was the site of one of the biggest post-season schoolboy tourneys. Jess Brown, the tournament director, bluntly stated its purpose. "It's strictly a showcase for the college scouts. These teams don't play together all the time. They're a bunch of all-stars. Last year, at least 11 boys got scholarships just from this tournament."
Gotkin was flanked by two especially attentive listeners. One was his cousin, Hy Gotkin, who had been captain of St. John's ( Brooklyn) University in the early 1940s. The other was white-haired "Buck" Freeman, once coach of the St. John's Wonder Five and now the astute assistant to Basketball Coach Frank McGuire at the University of North Carolina.
Off to one side, a scouting subordinate of Gotkin's patiently awaited his orders. Suddenly Gotkin pointed to the opposite side of the court at a husky youngster who had been named to the All- New York City high school team. "You tell him Frank McGuire wants to see him," Gotkin barked at his aide. "You fix up an appointment with Frank for tomorrow."
Then Gotkin turned to his cousin Hy and added, "You go talk to that boy later. You tell him all you know about Frank."
Across the court, Gotkin's first emissary was nearing his target. He tapped the boy gently on the shoulder and started to whisper into his ear. The youngster nodded gravely, and in five minutes the interview had ended.
"I told the kid," Gotkin's messenger reported, "that Frank was glad he made up his mind to go to Carolina. I told him, 'Now, listen, Jack. I know you can get a better deal from Louisville or Seton Hall, but take my advice and go to North Carolina. Frank McGuire's been a very good friend of mine for a long time and I know he'll take real good care of you.' "
McGuire, a native New Yorker whose tact and friendly personality have made him a favorite with Broadway regulars, sees nothing surprising in the Yankee infiltration at North Carolina. "I use five or six scholarships each year," he once said. "I make sure the kids receiving them are topnotchers. If they come from New York, well, they come from New York."
Another time, McGuire's explanation was more facetious. " New York is my personal territory," he claimed. "Duke can scout in Philadelphia and North Carolina State can have the whole country. But if anybody wants to move into New York, they need a passport from me."