Former Kansas basketball player Kenny Gregory knows a lot has changed in major college athletics in the last 15 years.
One example: He’s sure that freshmen aren’t asked to attend church with their basketball coach like he did back in the day.
“That probably wouldn’t work these days,” Gregory said with a laugh during Tuesday’s SportsBeat KC podcast. “I think that would probably cause a little uproar.”
Yes, Gregory said that there was a time he was alongside former KU coach Roy Williams at a church service.
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“If I recall correctly — for the first couple months if I remember right — the freshmen would have to go to church with Coach Williams and his wife (Wanda),” Gregory said. “The perk for us, being so young, was his wife would cook breakfast for us after church. That was the way you could bribe us into getting up on a Sunday morning when we probably would really rather sleep in.”
Gregory remembers those breakfasts, including pancakes, bacon and sausage. He says attendance was not mandatory each Sunday.
“It wasn’t like when you were growing up, your parents would make you go to church. Every couple weeks, he would throw a hint out there,” Gregory said. “One or two of the freshmen would have to go. Maybe not all, but one or two guys would have to suck it up and go that week.”
Gregory, who played for KU from 1997-2001, is returning to Lawrence this Thursday for the Rock Chalk Roundball Classic at Free State High School. The 7 p.m. event raises money for families dealing with cancer while bringing more than 30 former KU players, coaches and personalities together.
“I’m just excited to get back to KU. I haven’t been back very many times. I think this will be my second or third time back in 15 years,” Gregory said. “It’ll be nice to see some guys.”
Gregory, who played overseas after his KU career, now coaches middle school teams in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio. He hopes to someday start a mentorship program.
“I feel like there’s not many people teaching the kids about the other aspects, as far as the academic side and what really goes on at the major college level,” Gregory said. “You only play basketball a couple hours a day, so you really need to know what’s next, trying to be prepared for it. I’m just trying to be a former player that has actually lived it that can give the up-and-coming kids a heads up.”
Tickets for Thursday’s Roundball Classic are $10. Gregory, who returned to Lawrence for a KU basketball game in 2014, said he was looking forward to reconnecting with old teammates Eric Chenowith and Billy Thomas at the event.
“It’ll be good to be part of the KU family once again,” Gregory said.
The Sportsbeat KC podcast also is available on iTunes.