Boy, how the legendary degrees of separation find ways to connect. The son of the guy who first got Bill Self formally linked to the Kansas University basketball program is coming here this fall as a preferred walk-on under Self. The kid's mother, grandparents and aunts have supremely deep Lawrence and Jayhawk roots.
The son is Chase Buford, whose daddy is a former Kansas assistant and now general manager of the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA. Chase's mommy is the former Beth Boozer of Lawrence, a onetime golf champion and pro tour performer. In 1975, at age 19, the '74 Lawrence High grad was named by Golf Digest as the most beautiful linkster in America. She was some dish. Sexist? Hell, yes - I ain't dead yet!
As for Self's first exposure as a Jayhawk, R.C. Buford was a Larry Brown aide who had played college ball at Texas A&M and Oklahoma State. Self worked at a summer camp here, and R.C. told Larry he'd help the staff. Self leaped at the chance to work under The Genius. Bill was gone in about a year. Buford remained as a top aide through the '88 national title season, then Larry and Co. turned pro for San Antonio.
Young Chase had a spleen injury that negated his recent senior high school year in San Antonio. But he's highly regarded, and Self wouldn't take him if he didn't figure he could contribute.
When Beth Boozer and R.C. Buford were married here in 1987, R.C.'s best man was Doug Compton, and Self was one of the ushers along with Alvin Gentry, another KU assistant. Beth had been playing on the European pro golf tour for four years but had recently qualified for the LPGA tour and was to play in the United States the coming year.
Beth had been a basketball and volleyball player at LHS as well as the Lion golf mainstay then played at Kansas University under mother Nancy Moore Boozer, who also was a championship golfer and happened to be KU's coach. Also competing at KU under her mother was sister Barbie, who also could wield the sticks well.
I can't overemphasize how good Nancy Moore, the Beth-Barbie-Beverly mother, was. She didn't start golf until her sophomore year at KU, when a Wichita superstar named Marilynn Smith got her going. Right place, right time, she'd have been a major headliner. Nancy's sister, Polly Bysom, also was a local club champ.
As for Beverly, the youngest of the three girls, she was a topnotch high school basketball star but first chose to play her golf at UCLA. She came back and finished at KU, however.
Daddy Warren Boozer and Nancy met on the golf course here when Warren was a Navy officer at the Olathe base. They moved all over the globe but finally settled down in Lawrence where, as a Navy retiree, Warren ran the Jayhawk Bowl for some time. By the way, he'll tell you the rest of the family members were better bowlers than he was.
Beverly often marched to a different drummer. She used her athleticism to spend one summer helping the Douglas County public works operation lay asphalt.
Now, let's see. Chase Buford has a Self-promoting dad with a KU assistant coaching pedigree, two aunts who have been major sports figures around here, a grandmother who played and coached golf at high levels. Then there's granddaddy Warren, who worked at KU.
Lordy, by the time they get all that extended family in Allen Fieldhouse to watch Chase, it could take up a whole section. At least give 'em a break on tickets, Lew.