Former Kansas University basketball coach Ted Owens, who turns 80 on July 16, early Thursday morning returned to the United States after one of the most memorable vacations of his lifetime.
“It was a dream come true,” Owens said of a nine-day golf excursion to Scotland with KU’s current coach, Bill Self, and 10 or so KU graduates including Kent McCarthy, who organized the trip.
Owens — he compiled a 348-182 record as KU’s coach from 1965 to ’83 — roomed with Self for one-third of the trip in Scotland, the birthplace of golf.
“It just reinforced what I already knew, what a terrific guy he is,” Owens said. “Flying back, we watched the DVD of the (2008) San Antonio Final Four. We watched the Memphis and North Carolina games. They were as exciting today as they were then.”
Watching KU game film, of course, wasn’t the highlight of the trip for Owens and the others.
It was golf.
“St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Muirfield, Kingsbarnes on the sea,” Owens gushed of courses the group played. “Gullen ... with winds 40 to 50 mph, it blew the ball off the tees. It was beautiful in the morning. By the end of the round there were high winds, it was pouring. You’d play through the elements, which we were happy to do.
“Over there you walk with caddies. There are no carts. It was challenging. I loved every minute of it.”
Owens was thrilled at the big news involving KU basketball days prior to the trip — KU’s landing C.J. and Xavier Henry, the sons of former KU player Carl Henry, who played for Owens in 1982-83, his last year as Jayhawk coach.
“Barbara (mom of the Henry brothers) played at the same time for the women’s team. I watched the boys grow up (after Ted returned to his native Oklahoma where he currently resides in Tulsa),” Owens said.
“I am thrilled they are coming to KU. C.J. is quite an athlete himself and a savvy basketball player,” he said of the 6-foot-3 guard who red-shirted at Memphis last year. “Xavier (6-6 Putnam City High guard/forward) is such a great athlete. He’ll grow and grow playing for Bill and his staff.”
Owens remembers the talent of Carl Henry, a 6-6 forward out of Oklahoma City who averaged 16.8 ppg as a junior and 17.4 his senior year.
“Carl was a terrific player,” Owens said. “He’s worked with C.J. and Xavier on their shooting since they were young kids.”
l Banquet: Self, who was back in Lawrence at 1 a.m. Thursday, headed to Tulsa on Thursday night for the inaugural “Keep the Plate” appreciation dinner at the Greenwood Cultural Center. Former Tulsa coaches Self, Tubby Smith and Nolan Richardson were guests of honor at the fundraiser for Basket of Dreams Inc., a nonprofit community organization headed by former TU player Herb Suggs.