Glenn Wilkes' passion for basketball is unmistakable.
For the better part of seven decades, he has impacted the lives of countless individuals through playing, coaching, directing, scouting, teaching, and writing so others could better understand, improve and share the same love for the game that he holds so dear.
Once a recruit of the legendary Adolph Rupp, Wilkes played collegiately at Mercer University and spent 37 years at Stetson University filling numerous roles for the Hatters including head men's basketball coach, athletic director, a professor of sports and exercise medicine and even as his own sports information director. Even after his retirement from coaching in 1993, he used a Ph.D. in physical education to continue to mold and shape young people.
As head coach for the Hatters from 1957 to 1993, Wilkes tallied 552 wins, helped the program transition into NCAA Division I status and led Stetson from independent status into conference membership with the former Trans America Athletic Conference. As athletic director, Wilkes fondly remembers his time as an administrator in the A-Sun and the relationships that he forged as he helped the Hatters settle into a relationship that is into its third decade and that stands as the longest membership tenure in the A-Sun.
"We joined the conference in the latter part of my coaching career, but even after coaching I enjoyed being a part of the conference," said Wilkes. "As a coach I looked forward to the conference tournament, and as an administrator I enjoyed the conference meetings and getting to know the other administrators from the league. I missed that when I moved on to other endeavors."
For most, garnering that many years of experience and service would have proven to be enough for a lifetime. For Wilkes, however, it provided a jump start to a second career that, of course, centered around the game of basketball.
While still in the midst of a successful coaching career that placed him among the Top 25 Division I coaches in wins prior to his retirement, Wilkes recognized the need for heightened interest in basketball in the state of Florida and founded the legendary Glenn Wilkes Basketball School, the South's first and most recognized basketball camp for coaches and players. For 37 years Wilkes directed the camp personally, earning a reputation that led him to develop long-time relationships with Nike Basketball Camps and others including the Shooting Stars Basketball Camp, the Shooting Stars Point Guard Camp, and the Shooting Stars Big Man Camp.
Wilkes has worked with USA Basketball with the likes of Gene Keady, Bobby Knight, and John Thompson, and additionally served as assistant director of the annual Michael Jordan Flight School Basketball Camp in Santa Barbara, California. He also recently completed his 20th year helping George Raveling and Raveling's son run Nike's All-America camps and skills academies. He has also worked in camps and rubbed elbows professionally with other NBA greats such as LeBron James, Vince Carter and Charles Barkley.
"When I came to Stetson I realized that there was not a camp of any kind in the South and I got the idea to start one," said Wilkes. "One reason for it was because it would help a coach financially, as coaches' salaries back then were not that great and so it would help supplement in that way. Another reason was for recruiting. If there was a player that you were interested in you would get him to come to camp, where you would get the opportunity to watch him play to make sure that you wanted him, along with giving him the opportunity to decide that he wants you."
Basketball camps, particularly the Glenn Wilkes Basketball School, played a pivotal role in Wilkes remaining at Stetson throughout his career despite receiving many offers to coach elsewhere.
"A lot of the offers that I received I termed as parallel offers," Wilkes said. "My camp had built up so that I considered it another income. I felt that going to, say, another mid-major school and having to start over would not be in my best interest, or in my family's best interest. Plus, we like DeLand very much."
Along with his unending investment in collegiate basketball, Wilkes' reputation also gained him attention in the professional ranks. During Del Harris' stint as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1990s, Wilkes served as an advance scout for the team from 1994 through 1998.
As a teacher of the game, Wilkes' forte' for instruction opened even more opportunities for him in the latter part of his "second career." He operates two websites, www.basketballsbest.com and www.worldclassbasketball.com, which feature tips and instruction for coaches and players, along with tournament information, products and various general basketball information. His Basketball's Best clinics have led him not only throughout the South but across the nation and internationally to locales such as Portugal, Colombia, Korea, Latvia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Venezuela, and the Bahamas.
Since 1959, Wilkes' understanding and passion for the game also led him to author seven books on the game of basketball. With titles that remain available in both print and in Ebook editions online, his offerings range from "Winning Basketball Strategy" to the sharing of his trade secret of "How to run a Basketball Camp."
Induction into the A-Sun Hall of Fame is the most recent of numerous honors that he has received over the years. Believed to be induction into his eighth hall of fame, he has been honored by the halls from Nike, Florida Sports, Mercer University, Stetson and most recently the College Basketball Hall of Fame.
"My election into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014 was the one that hit me the most," Wilkes said. "I appreciate every one of the honors that I have received, but when they called me and told me that I had been elected there, I have to tell you the truth, I hung up the phone and cried.
"Induction into the A-Sun Hall of Fame also means a great deal to me, as that is what I have known for the last 30 years – the Atlantic Sun. The conference's growth has been amazing to me. I have seen teams leave the conference and they accomplish no more than if they had just stayed in the conference. Every time a team has left, we always have a quality team waiting to get in, and it just continues to grow. It was a great experience for me to be in this league and I am deeply honored to be a part of this special occasion."