Norman – Color Wayman Tisdale gone – as in long-green gone. If they had a black armband big enough, they'd have draped it around Noble Arena.
Tisdale and his entourage – father Louis, brothers Weldon and William and Oklahoma coach Billy Tubbs trooped into a cramped studio underneath the southwest corner of Memorial Stadium at 3:01 p.m., a fashionable minute late, Saturday afternoon.
Seconds later, the three-time consensus All-America basketball player began reading a prepared statement. It was obvious, from the opening tone of thanking his coaches, teammates, university and fans, that he'd banked his last turn-around jumper for OU.
“After long and careful consideration,” Tisdale read, “I'd like to make myself available for the draft.”
That's the National Basketball Association draft, of course, and as soon as those words were read, everything else became superfluous and they began toting up the scoresheet the 6-9 Tulsa Washington lefthander rang up in his three collegiate years:
· Big Eight Conference career scoring leader (2,661 points) and ninth-leading scorer in the NCAA Division I history.
· Big Eight single-game (61) and single-season (932) scoring records.
· Only first-team All-America by The Associated Press as a freshman, sophomore and junior.
· U.S. Olympic and Pan American Games gold medalist.
· Seventeen OU and 12 Big Eight Records.
On top of that, Tisdale and his Sooner cohorts set attendance records that others will be hard-pressed to break. (During Tisdale's three years, the Sooners averaged 9,559, 10,768 and 11,038 in a building that seats 10,871.) OU teams were 84-20 in his three-year tenure and played in the NCAA tournament each year.
The 1984-85 team, which finished 31-6, advanced the furthest, losing to Memphis State, 63-61, in the NCAA Midwest Regional finals in Dallas.
By making the announcement Saturday, Tisdale waited until the final day allowed by the NBA to announce he was passing up his senior year to play basketball professionally.
Tisdale refused to elaborate on his reasons for turning pro, saying, “There were a lot of factors and it took me awhile to decide. But it's really too early for me to fingerprint the biggest factor. My decision came within the last few days. And this is the decision that will make me happy.”
He did say he looked forward to the NBA's mandatory man-to-man defense rather than three-man picket fences he often contended with in college. Brother Weldon, a Tulsa employee for the Williams Co., said those kinds of defenses, too, added to the injury threat that could have cut into the big bucks Wayman is expected to earn as a pro. Concerning an agent, Wayman said, “Weldon hasn't decided (who it will be).”
Tisdale could be the second player picked in the June 18 NBA draft, according to experts who rank him right behind 7 foot Patrick Ewing of Georgetown.
Asked whether he had any assurances of where he might go in the draft, Tisdale allowed Weldon to answer.
“If Ewing is a No. 1, then Wayman is No. 1A,” said Weldon, “But whether he's N. 1, 2or 3, he had to make a decision to come out.”
Weldon said there was a “slight difference” monetarily between being the first or second pick, but “no difference” between being the second and third pick.
Tisdale, no doubt, will be one of the players chosen by the seven-team pool that will draw lots to decide first order of choice in the draft. Barring a trade, he will be drafted by Atlanta, Cleveland, Golden State, Indiana, New York, Los Angeles Clippers or Sacramento (nee Kansas City) Kings.
The news conference took less than 15 minutes and the Tisdales departed quickly. OU coach Billy Tubbs stayed behind for awhile and said, “I've really known for two or three dyas what was going to happen. But I don't think the final decision, the really final one, was made until today.
Tubbs talked confidently of having the kind of team that would aim for the same goals as one that had Tisdale.
“I think we're going to have BW and AW – Before Wayman and After Wayman,” said Tubbs. “But our goals have not changed. Replacing a guy like Wayman will be very, very difficult. But we still have an opportunity to have an excellent basketball team next year. We will have to play up to our expectations and we will have to play harder.
Tubbs wished Tisdale well as a pro and added, “When Wayman arrived at Oklahoma, we knew he would't be here forever, We've known for the last year this could possibly happen.
“My first reaction was disappointment. But I only want the best for Wayman.