Nov. 20, 2013
By Tom Weber
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois point guard K.C Goodwin remembers playing basketball one spring afternoon in the 11th grade when a group of people burst into the gym and shouted his name. "K.C -- your house is on fire!"
Goodwin rushed home, knowing that his grandmother, nephew and sister were likely in harm's way. When he got to his house, not far from Melrose High School in Memphis, he saw smoke billowing from the upstairs window of his bedroom. His family members were safe, and firemen were able to extinguish the fire before it destroyed the house, but his room was completely ruined. He had lost all of his worldly possessions.
That day changed Goodwin's perspective on life. He had no clothes to wear and only the shoes on his feet, and he realized that material goods can be here one day and gone the next. Having friends and family who love you is so much more important.
Kids at school passed around an envelope to take up a collection for Goodwin. Members of his AAU basketball team chipped in. He's always been grateful.
"No matter what happens, you need to have people around you that care about you," he said. "If something goes bad in life, you take care of them and they take care of you."
Memphis has a reputation as a dangerous place to live. The murder rate is among the highest in the nation with 157 homicides in 2012 alone. Memphis police director Toney Armstrong said about 90 percent of last year's homicides involved individuals who knew one another, and that African-American males under the age of 25 committed most of the city's homicides.
"Memphis is rough and you have to watch what you do," Goodwin said. "Every night you don't know what you're going to hear. You have to be secure with your family because you don't know what's going on outside of your house."
Goodwin wouldn't be at SIU today without the support of his family, especially the maternal care he received from his grandmother, Joan Conway, his mom, Rosilyn Goodwin, and his four older sisters.
Basketball has always been Goodwin's passion, though he didn't know until his junior year that it might also provide a pathway to a college education. He currently stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 160 pounds and has always been among the smallest players on his teams. He barely saw the court the first two years of his career at Melrose, but earned a starting job as a junior and blossomed into a college prospect.
Recruiters saw a young man with blinding quickness and a love for the game. Schools such as UMass, Jacksonville University, College of Charleston and Jackson State all showed interest, but SIU associate head coach Tom Hankins called him nearly every day, so he took an official visit. Goodwin loved the Carbondale campus and jumped at the scholarship offer.
Last Sunday, head coach Barry Hinson met with Goodwin and determined that it was in his best interest to redshirt this season. Sitting out a year wasn't Goodwin's first choice, but the 19-year-old freshman plans to take advantage of the redshirt year by acclimating himself to college life both on and off the court.
"At home, my mom used to wash all my clothes, now I have to do it on my own," he said. "You have to get to class on time and do your assignments on time. My responsibility level is going up and it's helping me become a better man in life."
Although Saluki fans won't get to see Goodwin in a real game until 2014, he predicted his play will be worth the wait.
"Since they've changed the defensive rules, it kind of plays in my favor, because if (the defender) can't put his hands on me, I don't think anybody can stay in front of me," he said. "I have love for the game. I'd rather spend my time at the gym than anywhere. I really think I can help this team."