Will any of my students--past, present, or future--every write anything as widely read as Gilbert Arenas' blog? For that matter, will I ever write anything that has half the circulation of said blog? Before he became "Agent Zero," Arenas was "Robin" to Jason Gardner's "Batman" at the University of Arizona. Fall, 1999. Freshmen guards. Proverbial big men on campus. And enrolled in a first-year composition course taught by yours truely.
Tucson media followed Arenas and Gardner closely because they made for great stories. Flashy California kid with a penchant for pissing off Lute Olson (Arenas) and quiet, tireless Indiana kid who averaged something like thirty-nine minutes of playing time per game (Gardner) who became inseperable on campus, young starters on a team full of stars-to-be. Loren Woods. Richard Jefferson. Luke Walton, who had to put up with "who's your daddy?" chants from opposing teams' student sections and "is your dad disappointed you aren't at UCLA?" questions from every journalist in pac-10 land. Future Globetrotter (and fan of old school Nikes and striped socks) Gene Edgerson, who got negative press (how could he not put the Wildcats first?!) for red-shirting so he could finish his education degree student-teaching at a local kindergarden. Extremely tall basketball player teaching five-year-olds. What a photo op. Guys destined for the NBA sat the bench on this team.
Arenas' popularity definitely trickled into the classroom. On the first day of school, I had to ask one of the young women in the class to wait until after classtime to get his autograph. And that was two months before the season even started. Sometimes I wonder if any of my former students will ever write a New York Times bestseller, or a manifesto that will change the course of human history, or a series of lucrative greeting cards. Maybe. In the meantime, one of those former students, Agent Zero, is last year's Weblog Awards winner for Best Celebrity Blog. Yep, he beat Rosie O'Donnell and that kid from Stand By Me and Star Trek. Congrats, Gilbert, on the b-ball prowess as well as the blogging prowess. But would a shout-out to the U of A composition program kill you?