It has been 30 years since Winthrop's first men's basketball team -- which played in what is now Sullivan Middle School against colleges as big as Wofford -- scored its first basket.
The team played at a time when fans sat so close to the court, the towering Eagles could reach out and touch them. Players weren't called "wings," and the 3-point line didn't exist. It was two guards, two forwards and a center. They practiced their "bread and butter," former team captain Dave Hampton likes to say.
He likes to say a lot, so much that team members call him The Talker.
That could by why Hampton, the first basketball player to sign with Winthrop in the 1970s, was instrumental in bringing the team together this weekend for its first reunion in 10 years.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Herald
"Captain Dave's coming to town," Hampton told former teammates in calls from Kentucky, where he lives and owns a cleaning business. "We're going to have a good time."
Fourteen of the first Eagles reunited at Luke's Sports Bar in Rock Hill's on Friday night. They planned to spend the weekend grilling out and playing golf on Lake Norman.
They are missing just one member, Britt Hudson, who had heart problems and died in his 30s.
"We're lucky to have only lost one," said former player Robin Ellenburg, who keeps in touch with five, maybe six, of the guys. "He will be missed."
Early this week, Ellenburg said he looked forward to seeing if anyone on the team had gained more weight than Hampton, who once was a sculpted 175 pounds.
That was back when Hampton's favorite actor was Burt Reynolds, and he aspired to own a restaurant and disco club or clothing store, according to the 1978-1979 Winthrop media guide.
"He's gained a few," Ellenburg joked about Hampton, "and he still wears disco clothes."
Ellenburg had the scoop on some other players. Allen Ours has nine children and a van to haul them around in. Gerald McAfee is a postal carrier in Charlotte. Doug Schmieding is an accountant.
Gary Adcock lives in Charlotte and owns a chain of coin laundromats and car washes. He's a real estate developer, too. He co-owns a condo with former player Rick Riese. Fourteen former basketball players plan to cause a ruckus there this weekend.
In the media guide from 1978-1979, Adcock listed his favorite celebrities as Clint Eastwood and Suzanne Sommers. But now, he said, his heroes are in the business world. He's a fan of Donald Trump and any other entrepreneur, he says.
Bennie Bennett is now superintendent of Newberry County schools. Thirty years ago, he was one of five players who transferred to Winthrop from Newberry College, whose basketball team lost only one game the previous season and reached the quarterfinals of the NAIA National Tournament.
Bennett came to Winthrop with coach Nield Gordon and players Rick Riese, the Creamer twins -- Ronnie and Donnie and Hampton. They opened the first season at Wingate and finished with a 25-10 record.
"Thirty years ago, I was scared to death about the move we were making," Hampton said.
Now, Hampton says, he feels proud that the athletic department followed through with the promises it made 30 years ago to build a coliseum and develop the basketball program.
"They're not just competing; they're winning," he said about the current Eagles, who have won four straight Big South Conference Championships. "And they're more than winning -- they're on television, getting recognized all across the country."
Hampton, Ellenburg and Adcock are all as different from each other now as they were in college. But they have one thing in common when they see their alma mater on ESPN. Adcock said it's a big reason why they're returning.
"I get chill bumps," Hampton said. "It makes me proud."