Lefty Driesell knows the history of ACC basketball as well as almost anyone and he knows Art Heymans place in the leagues long, colorful story.
He was one of the best to ever play in the ACC, Driesell, the former Maryland and Davidson coach, said Tuesday. He was a heckuva player, a great competitor.
Heyman was so good that he helped boost the Davidson program onto the national stage when Driesell was building it in the early 1960s.
Driesell offered Duke athletics director Eddie Cameron a $10,000 guarantee, virtually unheard of in 1962, to bring Heyman, Jeff Mullins and the second-ranked Blue Devils to face the Wildcats in the Charlotte Coliseum.
People didnt give guarantees back then, but I told Eddie Cameron wed sell the place out, Driesell said. He could take $10,000 or half the gate.
Davidson upset the second-ranked Blue Devils in the Coliseum and two years later, the Wildcats were Sports Illustrateds preseason No. 1 team in the country.
In the closing seconds of Davidsons 72-69 victory over the Blue Devils, Duke trailed by one point and Heyman brought the ball up court. Davidsons Barry Teague stole the ball from Heyman, sealing the victory. Driesell remembers Heyman grabbing his wrist, claiming to have been fouled on the decisive play.
It was a great win for our program, Driesell said.
Mullins said Heymans determination and competitiveness were best displayed in his exceptional rebounding ability.
Ive always said that next to Elgin Baylor, Art was the best 6-5 offensive rebounder Ive played with or against, Mullins said. He had a knack and a hunger for the ball. When it went up on the glass, he thought it belonged to him.
Mullins said Heymans intensity was such that when the Blue Devils went through pre-game introductions, each player ran out on the court, then back into a team huddle at the bench.
Nobody wanted to put their hand near Arts, he was so intense, Mullins said. He broke (coach) Vic Bubass thumb once in the huddle. He reached in and grabbed something and it was Vics thumb.
What Heyman lacked in physical skill, Mullins said, was offset by his toughness, which came to define him as a college player.
He never looked like a basketball player, but when you put the ball in his hands he knew what to do, Mullins said.