Jon Teitel's "Forgotten Legends" Series: Ole Miss' John Stroud

September 6th, 2011
In the latest installment in his "Forgotten Legends" series CHN writer Jon Teitel spent some time with Ole Miss great John Stroud to discuss his career in Oxford. Stroud was a two-time All American and remains the school's all-time leading scorer. He's now the head basketball coach of the girls' team at New Albany High School while also running his own insurance agency.

Jon Teitel: Both your parents and your sister were all-state high school selections and your daughter Caroline recently finished her high school career playing for you. Who is the best athlete in the family, and does your daughter credit at least some of her success to genetics? 

John Stroud: I think my daughter got her genetics from my wife's side of the family.  My dad was the first player in Mississippi history to be named all-state for all four years, and I definitely got his basketball genes. 

JT: At Ole Miss you led the SEC in scoring in 1979 and 1980 and you are still the top scorer in school history. What is the secret to being a great scorer, and do you think anyone will ever break your record? 

JS: I do not think anyone will break my record because all the good players these days leave early to go pro.  I was a gifted shooter who played in a motion offense and had a lot of screens set for me.  There was no shot clock so we had plenty of time to create a good shot selection.  Most games I played all 40 minutes so I had a lot of double-doubles. 

JT: You were a two-time All-American and the 1980 SEC Athlete of the Year. What did it mean to you to receive such outstanding individual honors? 

JS: We all know that the SEC is probably the best conference in the country in terms of sports.  Coming from a small high school to become the best athlete in the SEC was a great honor that I am very proud of. 

1980 NIT

JT: Freshman Carlos Clark made the game-winning basket in a two-point win over Grambling. Where does Clark's shot rank among the most clutch you have ever seen? 

JS: The play was designed to go to me inside, but Carlos was wide open so I passed the ball to him and he made the shot.  It was a great win for us as it was our school's first postseason win since the 1930s.  Carlos later went on to play for the Celtics. 

JT: You had a two-point loss to eventual runner-up Minnesota. Could you tell at the time that Minnesota's Kevin McHale was going to become a star? 

JS: He was a great shot-blocker who had long arms, but nobody knew that he would turn into such a great offensive player. 

JT: In the summer of 1980 you were drafted in the second round by Houston (eight spots ahead of Rick Mahorn). Did you see that as a validation of your college career or the realization of a lifelong dream of reaching the NBA? 

JS: It was another great honor just to be selected, as everyone wants to play in the NBA.  I was a great college player, but it is hard to be a 6'7" low-post scorer in the pros!  It is also hard to adjust to the athleticism because everyone in the NBA is so fast.  We made it to the Finals in 1981 before losing to the Celtics.  There are a lot more teams today so I think that I could have had a much longer career if I was playing now. 

JT: You played only nine games with the Rockets, then played one year in Spain. What is your favorite memory from your time in the NBA, and how did the NBA compare to professional basketball in Spain? 

JS: My career-high was against Portland and I got to start the next game against Golden State and guard Bernard King, which was a great memory.  Spain was like a small JC back in the 1980s.  I averaged almost 30 PPG after averaging about 3 PPG with Houston, as the Spanish style fit my game.  It was great to see another kind of basketball. 

JT: You later became an assistant coach at Alabama under Wimp Sanderson. What made Sanderson such a great coach? 

JS: Wimp was a great coach. Despite his constant scowl I learned a lot from him. 

JT: In 1986-1987 you won back-to-back state titles as head coach of the boys' team at WP Daniel HS (now New Albany HS). What makes you such a great coach, and what did it mean to you to win those titles? 

JS: I had a good basketball pedigree and just tried to relate my knowledge to the high school kids.  We had some good players. 

JT: In 2005 you became coach of the New Albany HS girls' team, where you won 32 straight games in 2010 before losing the state title game, then won the state title in 2011. What is the biggest difference between coaching boys vs. girls, and which do you enjoy coaching more? 

JS: I coached boys for 18 years but I enjoy coaching girls more because they listen to you and they are very sensible on the court.  Off the court there is a lot of emotion involved, but it was fun to coach my daughters. 

JT: You own of the John Stroud Agency, a full-service independent insurance agency. How do you like your day job, and how long do you plan on pulling double duty with coaching? 

JS: I had a mid-life crisis in 2003 after having problems recruiting players to a D-3 school with no scholarships, so I decided to go into insurance.  The coaching is just a few hours a day but I enjoy doing both.  
Stroud is on Jon's list of best fantasy players in SEC history.

Alabama: Leon Douglas (1976) 1909 PTS (#3), 1279 REB (#2), 235 BLK (#3), 2-time All-American, 2-time conference POY
Arkansas: Sidney Moncrief (1979) 2066 PTS (#2), 1015 REB (#2), 60.6 FG% (#2), 2-time All-American
Auburn: Chuck Person (1986) 2311 PTS (#1), 940 REB (#3), 2-time All-American
Florida: Ronnie Williams (1984) 2090 PTS (#1), 954 REB (#4), 58.5 FG% (#5)
Georgia: Dominique Wilkins (1982) 1688 PTS (#4), 2-time All-American, conference POY
Kentucky: Dan Issel (1970) 2138 PTS (#1), 1078 REB (#1), 2-time All-American
LSU: Pete Maravich (1970) 3667 PTS (#1), 425 AST (#4), 3-time All-American, 3-time conference POY, 2-time national POY
Mississippi: John Stroud (1980) 2328 PTS (#1), 826 REB (#4), 2-time All-American
Mississippi State: Bailey Howell (1959) 2030 PTS (#2), 1277 REB (#1), 2-time All-American
South Carolina: Alex English (1976) 1972 PTS (#2), 1064 REB (#3), 230 BLK (#3), All-American
Tennessee: Allan Houston (1993) 2801 PTS (#1), 346 3PM (#2), 42.4 3P% (#2), 84.9 FT% (#2), 2-time All-American
Vanderbilt: Shan Foster (2008) 2011 PTS (#1), 367 3PM (#1), All-American, conference POY