Growing up Dick Vitale can remember family arguments about who was the best center fielder in baseball. Everyone had an opinion -- with no one opinion being right or wrong.

That helped inspire the idea for a new book by the ESPN college basketball analyst that he hopes will bring back "memories to a lot of players and people" just like it did for him.

"Dick Vitale's Mount Rushmores of College Basketball -- Solid Gold Prime Time Performers From My Four Decades at ESPN" is co-written with Hall of Fame sports writer Dick Weiss and stats guru Howie Schwab.

Vitale went to work for ESPN on Dec. 5, 1979, and his Mount Rushmore lists start with his hire date. That means coaches John Wooden and Adolph Rupp are not on his list of coaches. Instead, he has Bob Knight, Dean Smith, Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski as his top four.

"These are my choices and I can respect the fact that not everybody will agree," Vitale said. "We wanted to impact a lot of people with my memories and I am so proud of the response we are getting. It has all been very positive."

He said putting Knight, Smith and Krzyzewski on his top four coaching list was easy. Picking Williams as No. 4 was not as easy. He admits he considered Tom Izzo, Jim Calhoun, Bill Self and John Calipari, too.

"I gave Roy the edge because of what he has achieved not only at North Carolina but also what he did at Kansas," Vitale said. "He has three titles. I had to go with him."

He has a lot of Kentucky connections in his book.

Calipari is listed as one of "All Mr. March" coaches along with Izzo, Krzyzewski and Rick Pitino, who does belong there for what he's done at every stop in his career. Vitale calls him the "perfect" fit for Kentucky.

Two former UK players -- Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns --are on the "All One and Done" list along with Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony. The "All Traveling Men" -- coaches who have had success at more than one school -- includes Tubby Smith along with Self, Rick Barnes and Left Driesell.

Perhaps my favorite list is the "All Golden Voice" of all-time great college basketball announcers. First on the list is Kentucky's Cawood Ledford.

"He is a legend. Everybody in Kentucky knows that," Vitale said. "Cawood was simply the best and such an intricate part of Kentucky basketball. He was one of those guys who would eat, sleep and drink his sport. He was a true Hall of Famer. Couldn't have a list without my man Cawood. He was Kentucky basketball."

It's no surprise that all proceeds from the book will go to the V Foundation for pediatric cancer. Vitale has helped raise millions of dollars to help kids battling cancer and there is a tribute at the start of the book to those who have have been to a V Foundation gala and since lost their battles.

"I am obsessed with raising money to help these kids," Vitale, who was at the Champions Classic in Indianapolis last week, said. "Every dollar will go through the V Foundation.

"You can preorder (at and get an autographed copy. The books would make great Christmas gifts. I am really passionate about this and just want to help kids at the same time I am sharing my memories of my 40 years at ESPN."

* * *

Kentucky's loss to Duke certainly shows the impact recruiting can have. Duke signed the top three recruits in the 2018 class and R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish combined for 83 points against Kentucky and destroyed the Wildcats.

That's why last weekend was important for UK's future success because coach John Calipari hosted Jaden McDaniels (Federal Way High School, Washington). He has previously visited Washington, Texas and San Diego State where his brother plays. UCLA is also on his list of schools.

The 6-11 McDaniels played so well in the spring and summer that he went from a top 100 player to a top five player.

"We have him ranked as the the No. 1 power forward," Chris Fisher of The Cats Pause/247 Sports Network said. "A lot of people feel he has the highest ceiling of any prospect in the 2019 class, which is saying a lot. He's a 6-11 forward and there's not much he can't do with the ball in his hands. He projects as a stretch four, a Kevin Durant type of player."

Fisher said the belief is that it will be hard to get Daniels to leave the west coast but he also said that Kentucky was his dream school.

"We'll have to see how that factors into his final choice," Fisher said. "Kentucky has got a crack at him and certainly has a place for him in its 2019 recruiting class. With his versatility he could play next to another big guy because of his perimeter skills and all he can do."

Fisher said McDaniels could play with either James Wiseman or Vernon Carey, two of Kentucky's other top recruiting targets.

"His recruitment has been a mystery. He's not revealed a lot and it is kind of unclear when he will decide (on a college)," Fisher said. "He could wait to spring to make his choice. I could see Wiseman doing it in the next couple of week. Carey is not real clear about when he'll decide, either. Kentucky is bracing for the losses of P.J. Washington and EJ Montgomery. Nick Richards could possibly leave. Kentucky is in the market for front court help and McDaniels could sure help."

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.