Kansas University basketball coach/amateur movie critic Bill Self gave a resounding thumbs up to KU senior forward Justin Wesley’s portrayal of Wilt Chamberlain in the film “Jayhawkers,” which premiered before a full house Friday night in Lied Center.
“I thought my guy did a terrific job. I did. I figured he’d be a natural in that particular role. He was better than even what I thought he’d be,” Self said after attending the movie on Valentine’s Day with his wife, Cindy.
“I loved it. I thought it was great,” Self added of local director Kevin Willmott’s story of KU coach Phog Allen bringing Chamberlain to KU during the still early stages of the civil-rights movement. “It was well done, classy, certainly a great way to spend your evening.
“It reminded me a little of ‘Glory Road’ on a much lesser scale of what young men went through at that time, all the pressures and challenges. I think they did a good job of displaying that,” Self added.
Wesley, who wore a black suit and slacks, blue shirt and red tie to the showing, could not comment on his performance in accordance with NCAA rules.
His mom, Charlene Taylor-Mask, who attended, said: “I am so very proud of Justin, all his achievements on court and off court. I think he should be very good (in acting),” she added. “He acts out a lot with myself and Keith (Langford, brother) and his other brother (Kevin). He generally gets what he wants so he must be pretty good.”
Wesley’s college roommate of three years, Jeff Withey, also attended, as did the members of KU’s current team. Some, like Landen Lucas, wore suitcoat and tie; others went with a more casual look.
“I’m really excited for him,” said Withey, a rookie with the New Orleans Pelicans on All-Star break. “To be able to do a movie and be a college basketball player and student is not easy. It takes a lot of time and effort. I love the guy. He’s like my brother. I’m happy for him, and I’m excited.”
“Jayhawkers” will be shown at 11 a.m., 7 and 9 p.m. today and 1, 4 and 7 p.m. Sunday at Lied Center. Tickets are available at Lied Center box office.