Bill Walton revealed how Michael Jordan was once interested in attending UCLA, but John Wooden and co did not recruit him.
Jordan was not a once-in-a-lifetime prospect, or so it seemed, back in high school. Players like LeBron James with proven potential in junior high are very rare. Naturally, a ton of the improvement made by players occurs in college play, against proper zone defenses.
UCLA is the most successful team in the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament. They’ve won 11 championships, 10 of which had come under John Wooden. Bill Walton and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are but two of the all-time NBA greats from this program.
MJ was a high school senior in 1980 when he committed to the Tar Heels’ basketball scholarship offer. Jordan earned McDonalds’ All-American recognition at the end of the year when his profile really began to rise.
Before he went ahead with UNC as his final choice, Jordan reportedly also considered attending UCLA.
Bill Walton reveals how Michael Jordan was not given consideration by UCLA
NBA legend Bill Walton suggested that Jordan was not considered by the Bruins. Walton noted that the Bruins were not interested in him as a high school prospect.
“There is no reason for you to come here, we don’t have space for you,” Walton remembered hearing. “That was probably a mistake.”
In a 1992 interview with Playboy Magazine, Jordan opened up on his college recruitment. He noted that UCLA was indeed his first choice.
“I always wanted to go to UCLA. That was my dream school. Because when I was growing up, they were a great team. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton, John Wooden. But I never got recruited by UCLA.”
Michael Jordan then cleared the air about a possible rumor that caused UCLA to not recruit him aggressively:
“By the time they (UCLA) wanted to recruit me, they had heard that I was going to stay close to home, which was not necessarily true. I also wanted to go to Virginia because I wanted to play with Ralph Sampson for his last two years there.”
“He was going into his junior year. I wrote to Virginia, but they just sent me back an admission form. No one came and watched me. Then I visited North Carolina and I was happy with the atmosphere, so I committed early.”