Kevin Whitted, Adell Harris share memories of Pat Summitt
By Tim Hower StarNews Staff
Wednesday, June 29, 2016 8:45 AM
During his three years at Tennessee, Kevin Whitted had many encounters with legendary Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt.
Summitt, 64, died Tuesday morning at Sherrill Hill Senior Living in Knoxville, according to her son, Tyler. Her death, five years and two months after being diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type, resulted in an outpouring of reactions from the president to people who never played for Summitt.
"I was in college when the women's game changed dramatically and she was a part of that process," Whitted said. "That's when the UConn-Tennessee rivalry took its form. She really spearheaded the globalization of the game."
As a member of the men's team from 1993-95, Whitted, who graduated from Laney in 1990, often saw Summitt around campus. One meeting in particular stood out.
"After my junior year, we were in between coaches and I saw her in the weight room," Whitted said. "A lot of people were intimidated by Pat because she always stood with her arms folded. I'm a strong person, so I walked up and talked to her. I looked at her and told her she should be coaching us.
"She stared me right in the eyes and said, 'Kevin, you guys couldn't handle me for two days.' She was dead serious, and I believed her."
The hard-nosed coach recruited Whitted and other members of the men's team to play 1-on-1 games against her players.
"She encouraged the girls to play us, because she knew it would help them be more physical," Whitted said. "She embraced a lot of the things that a lot of today's coaches are just catching up to. She was ahead of the game."
Before she became the UNCW women's basketball coach, Adell Harris spent three seasons at Division II Tusculum College, which is located a little over an hour east of Knoxville.
Although she never met Summitt, Harris quickly found how beloved she was by the people in Tennessee.
"I'm not from Tennessee, but from spending time there, I don't think there's anyone bigger," Harris said. "Maybe Elvis? You'd have a hard time find someone who was more influential than Pat. And I think it's great, because she's a female and she did things the right way."
- Reporter Tim Hower can be reached at 910-343-2366 or Tim.Hower@StarNewsOnline.com.