Auburn’s tournament success brings back memories for local ball player

Mark Redd is a Winston-Salem native who played at Auburn University with the great Charles Barkley.

Auburn’s tournament success brings back memories for local ball player
April 11
01:40 2019

The Auburn Tigers men’s basketball team hasn’t enjoyed this much success on the court since the early 1980s. The Tigers made it all the way to the Final Four of the NCAA tournament,  which brought back fond memories for Mark Redd, who played for the Tigers from 1981-82.

Redd is a native of Winston-Salem and grew up in Happy Hill Gardens. Basketball was always close to his heart, because he played every day. He was known for his tremendous leaping ability, along with being able to shoot accurately with both hands. He graduated from South Park High School.

Redd also was in the freshman class alongside NBA hall of famer Charles Barkley, who he remembers fondly, as well as the legendary Bo Jackson. His basketball career was cut short due to him having to return home from college to take care of his ailing mother, who was sick at the time. To have the ability to see his former college have a shot at the national title was a joy for Redd.

“I was really surprised, but I have always said that Auburn could compete in the ACC if they were in there,” said Redd. “When I saw them play earlier in the year, I thought they would have a chance to make it all the way. I wasn’t surprised when I saw them boys running like that all game; that’s what they do.”

Coming out of South Park High School, Redd was the first African-American to obtain a scholarship to an SEC (Southeastern Conference) school in the area in the sport of basketball. 

Playing alongside Barkley is something he will never forget, Redd said. He knew Barkley was destined for greatness the first time he saw Barkley on the court.

“When I first saw him play, I knew he was a beast,” he said. “I knew he was going pro, because I had a 40-plus vertical at the time and Barkley could jump higher than I could. He could also lift 1,000 pounds with his legs, so he was very strong in his lower body.

“What he said was true, he was not a role model and he talked trash, but he backed it up every time on the court.”

Redd recalls playing against some of the greatest to ever play the game while in college, such as Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins and Sam Bowie. “I played against a lot of the big-time guys, because they came in around the same time I did,” he said.

Once he was made aware his mother was sick and had to leave college, Redd said he knew his career was over at that point. He said he cried for the 900-mile journey back to Winston-Salem.

“The thing I was hurt most about was that I was going places with playing basketball, but my dream ended right there when my mom got sick and I had to come home,” he continued.

When Redd came home, he started working in a tobacco plant and stayed there for over 33 years before he retired.

The thoughts of where he may have ended up if he had continued to play come to Redd from time to time. He says if they would have had a three-point shot in those days, he would have been an even more deadly player. 

“I don’t hate on Steph Curry and all the guys playing now, because back in the day I would take two steps across half court and let it go too,” he said.  “At that time, zone defenses started as soon as you came across half court, so you couldn’t be scared to let it go from distance.”

Redd was inducted into the Forsyth County High School Hall of Fame in 2011. During his time at South Park, he was named All-City and All-County three times and was named MVP of the Bishop McGuinness Christmas Tournament in his senior year. 

Redd says his dream is to see Barkley one more time before his time is over. He said Barkley is one of his heroes and will always be “Chuck” to him.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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