In the 1979-80 season in Athens, Mercer was a senior about to move on and become a basketball star in Israel while Wilkins was a freshman from Washington, N.C., and one of the top recruits in the country. Hugh Durham was in his second year as Georgia’s head coach, coming from Florida State, and the program was taking off on a path that would take them to the Final Four three years later.
“I helped recruit and knew Dominique was going to be a star,’’ said Mercer of Wilkins, who really became noticed nationally when he made the “Faces in the Crowd” section of Sports Illustrated after scoring 48 points, 18 of them on dunks, pulling down 27 rebounds and blocking eight shots in a high school game. “When he first came to Georgia it was easy to tell just how good he was going to be. He had a lot of heart.’’