BATON ROUGE - Former two-time All-American and SEC Player of the Year Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf made a surprise appearance on the LSU campus last weekend, reuniting him with a former teammate and former LSU head coach Dale Brown and present LSU head Coach Johnny Jones.
Abdul-Rauf, who played at LSU under the name Chris Jackson in the 1988-89 and 1989-90 seasons, had called to touch base with former teammate Stanley Roberts, who is working on the LSU campus while finishing up his degree work. The Gulfport, Miss., native was on his way through Louisiana to take three of his boys to a basketball camp in Texas.
Roberts was able to set up a meeting at the athletic department with Brown, Jones and Senior Associate AD Bo Bahnsen and the player who still holds the NCAA record for scoring average for a freshman at 30.2 points a game. The group toured the athletic offices, built since Abdul-Rauf left, as well as the new practice facility (which features several pictures from his playing days) and the updated Maravich Assembly Center.
Waiting for Abdul-Rauf, who is still active in pro basketball playing this past year in Japan, was his jersey and award for being a member of LSU's 16-member All-Century team that was named in 2009 on the anniversary of LSU's first basketball game.
"It was great to see Mahmoud and to spend some time with him here on LSU's campus," said Jones, who was an assistant under Coach Brown when Abdul-Rauf played at LSU. "He was overly impressed with the new facilities from the practice areas to the upgrade of the PMAC, along with our offices. He was glad he stopped by because it gave his children who were with him the opportunity to see the campus and the facilities where he played and see a lot of the memorabilia that is on display.
"Bo Bahnsen has done a tremendous job of keeping up with all the awards and information that was gathered during the 100-year reunion that he hadn't picked up. Bo kept those in storage and we were able to present those on his trip back here and (Abdul-Rauf) said (the century award) was something he would continue to cherish. At the end of the day, he looked forward to visiting the campus on a regular basis and that is something we look forward to," Jones said.
Coach Brown was pleased to see another member of LSU's basketball family returning to their campus home.
"It brought back so many good memories," said Brown, who coached the Tigers for 25 seasons and led LSU to two NCAA Final Fours. "He has a perpetual smile. He's so loving. He's so sincere. We met him in Johnny's office and when he saw his picture up there with (Bob) Pettit, Shaq (Shaquille O'Neal), Pete (Maravich) and (Rudy) Macklin; he went 'Wow.'"
"We showed him the practice facility and he said, 'Coach, I can't believe this. I'd have never gone to class, I would have been here all the time' and he laughed."
When Abdul-Rauf was standing with Brown on the Assembly Center floor, he recalled a play from his freshman year when he inbounded the ball to Ricky Blanton who then used Blanton as a screen to hit an open jumper from the corner to defeat Vanderbilt, 85-84, in Jan. 1989.
"The day brought back the memories for all of us," said Brown. "It was a heart-warming, wonderful day. It made me feel real good. It was a fun time. He's now back into our (LSU basketball) family again."
Abdul-Rauf played in 64 games over two seasons at LSU, scoring 1,854 points (29.0 average). Now some 22 years after he left to go to the NBA Draft (where he was the third pick of the Denver Nuggets), he remains the eighth all-time leading scorer in LSU history.