His basketball career began in a Kansas railroad town, and while his legacy will forever be defined by his contributions to Kansas State University – first as an All-American guard with a feathery touch from outside, and then as the school’s athletic director and fund-raiser extraordinaire – Ernie Barrett will also remain deeply woven into the fabric of professional basketball’s greatest franchise. Selected in the first round of the 1951 NBA Draft by Red Auerbach and the Boston Celtics, Barrett’s most important contribution may have come years later, as Auerbach wrestled over whom to select with the Number 4 overall pick in 1970 – New Mexico State big man Sam Lacey, or Florida State’s undersized-but-energetic Dave Cowens. Auerbach respected Barrett’s opinion immensely. He also knew that Barrett, then the K-State athletic director, had seen Lacey in action against the Wildcats. Barrett came away from that contest less than enamored with the Aggies’ 6’-10” center, and he shared his evaluation with Auerbach on the eve of the draft. The Celtics patriarch heeded Barrett’s advice and selected Cowens at Number 4; and while Lacey would go on to play thirteen solid-yet-unspectacular seasons with the Cincinnati Royals, New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers, Cowens would win two NBA championships with Boston and wind up in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.