Beyond Boone County
But before he would decide his future, Malone formed a relationship with Maryland's legendary coach Lefty Driesell. Lefty was a character who whipped Maryland's fanbase into a frenzy by promising to make the school the "UCLA of the East" and by inventing such gimmicks as "Midnight Madness" which have been mimicked by programs around the country. At the time he came to Maryland, Ted Williams was coaching the Washington Senators and Vince Lombardi was coaching the Washington Redskins. He told reporters that in Washington, summers were for Ted, Fall was for Vince, and Lefty owns the winters.
Malone followed the Bible closely, including the parts he wrote himself. Malone never showed up on Maryland's campus. He would famously become a trailblazer that year by eschewing college ball altogether, and becoming the first high school basketball player to go pro directly, signing with the ABA's Utah Stars.
Despite losing the greatest player he'd ever sign, Lefty stayed very close with Malone. They talked often and shared basketball insights. And this gets us to the heart of our story. The friendship of Lefty and Moses led to one of the most unusual basketball signings in college basketball history.
In one of their conversations during Malone's recruitment, Lefty asked him how he came to be such a complete player, knowing the high school competition he faced was no match for the powerful and talented player. Malone's response surprised Lefty. Malone said that he played pick-up games against inmates at the Petersburg State Penitentiary. The inmates were bigger, stronger, more aggressive, and just plain good.
"How do you get in?" asked a curious Lefty.
"They stamp me when I go in," Malone replied. " They check it under a lamp when I leave."
"What if you sweat too much and the stamp rubs off? They'd keep you there?"
"Naw. They know me," Malone said nonchalantly.
Malone went on to tell Lefty about a particularly tough big man known as the Milkman, who could always go toe-to-toe with the greatest high school player in the country.
"Milkman? Why do they call him the milkman," Lefty asked.
"Because he murdered a milkman, man," was the reply.
Lefty Driesell was at Maryland to win, not to split ethical hairs. He did some digging to find out who this Milkman was, and made a phone call to Virginia Governor, Mills Godwin's office.
Lefty explained to the governor his interest in the Milkman, saying he had a scholarship offer for him. The governor said he'd look into the situation and get back to him.
A couple of weeks later, Lefty got a call back from the Governor of Virginia, who said "Lefty, I've looked into it. Sorry to tell you, but the Milkman ain't never gettin' out."