The Wolverine

June-July 2012

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Prep All-American Richard Rellford Sacrificed Stats For Championships M BY CHRIS BALAS prized targets, sometimes going to extreme lengths to land them. For- mer Michigan basketball coach Dave Strack, for example, was so con- cerned Yost Fieldhouse would turn off the great Cazzie Russell that he claimed to forget the keys to the building during Russell's recruiting trip in the early 1960s. Somehow, that one worked. Nearly 20 years later, head coach any coaches save their best re- cruiting tactics for their most ing an alumnus of the University of Michigan?' "That was 90 percent of my deci- sion. The other part came from A.C." Rellford and Carter remain great friends, living around the corner from each other in West Palm Beach, Fla. "I couldn't tell you how he is, though. Maybe if I could get him off the golf course …" Rellford quipped. Carter, of course, proceeded to re- with Riviera Beach (Fla.) Sun Coast High standout and Parade and Mc- Donald's All-American Richard Rell- ford under normal circumstances. He held a trump card, though, and then-assistant Mike Boyd played it. Instead of pairing Rellford up with a fellow basketball player on Rellford's visit, Boyd brought out Sun Coast alum Anthony Carter. Carter, Michigan's All-American Bill Frieder was in a similar situation, looking to turn a slumping program around. The Wolverines were coming off an 8-19 season and Frieder, a re- lentless recruiter, was in need of elite talent to compete with an already solid and rapidly improving Big Ten. Frieder might not have had a shot saw how those people loved him," Rellford, now an independent busi- ness owner in South Florida, re- called with a laugh. "To you guys [in Ann Arbor], Anthony was a great football player. To me, he was the greatest football player I had ever seen in my life. What you saw was great. I saw Anthony in high school score seven touchdowns in one game. He was unbelievable. "Well, Anthony thought Michigan wide receiver, opened a door. It was the school, though, that sold Rellford. "Anthony took me around, and I was the greatest thing he had ever seen. When he got up there, he saw the stadium and he had never seen anything like it." Carter had become a god of sorts, Rellford recalled of touring the cam- pus with the skinny wideout, and 76 THE WOLVERINE JUNE/JULY 2012 Rellford was a three-year starter and aver- aged 9.9 points and 3.9 rebounds per game during his career, and he helped U-M win back-to-back Big Ten championships in 1984-85 and 1985-86. PHOTO COURTESY U-M MEDIA RELATIONS it made an impression. That wasn't what made the difference between U-M and the 315 other schools re- cruiting him, though. Frieder had already made inroads with big man Butch Wade, Rellford's friend from the AAU circuit, and fellow prep standouts Paul Jokisch and Robert Henderson were already in the fold. Rellford was well aware of Russell and the late, great Bill Buntin, know- ing Michigan basketball had its own tradition. It was time, he figured, to help awaken the program from its slumber. Rellford camped at Michigan over the summer, a trip that was as much business as basketball pleasure. "Not only did I have a great time there, I kind of did my homework," he recalled. "I went into the top schools recruiting me and looked at their information. "I found out at that time they had write the Michigan record book for his exploits on the gridiron. Rellford, meanwhile, had plenty of success of his own next door at Crisler Arena. He averaged 8.0 points and 3.5 re- bounds in 21.0 minutes per game as a true freshman, helping lead the Wol- verines to a 16-12 record. Michigan captured the NIT championship a year later with an 83-63 drubbing of Notre Dame in the finale, capping a 24-9 season, and the table was set for much greater success. Rellford would be a big part of it, averaging 11.4 points per game as a junior and 11.8 as a senior in back-to-back Big Ten championship seasons. On some nights he'd score 20-plus and others 10 or less, but he was always a presence on the glass when guards Gary Grant or Antoine Joubert and center Roy Tarpley were handling the scoring. "We all averaged over 30 in high school, but we knew after our fresh- man year that to win, we had to come together," Rellford recalled. "That's exactly what we did. We sacrificed. Our junior year, our leading scorer was Roy at like 13 points per game, but we won. We all made the sacri- fice knowing if we wanted to win, this is what we had to do. "Coach Frieder was a one of a kind the largest alumni of any school, great academics. I looked at my fa- ther and said, 'If I don't make it to the NBA, I'm going to need a job. What better way to get a job than be- type of guy. He never had to set a play for me. He'd always say, 'Rich, just get your scoring in the offense.' He had some plays set for us, but he had me go on my own any time I wanted, really. He let us play and he never put restrictions on us." The formula worked. Not only did the Wolverines capture back-to-

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