Lester Hudson acquired the nickname “Mini-Vinnie” from Washington Wizards team personnel while playing for their summer league team in Las Vegas … as in Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson. The great Detroit Pistons bench player is listed at 6’2″. Hudson’s pre-draft measurements list him at 6’1″ (other “official” listings boost him up to 6’3″). We’ll call it about even. The combo-guard is still trying to latch on with an NBA team, but the Memphis native has already accomplished far beyond what was ever expected of him.
Hudson’s story comes from the same setting as Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher, subject of Michael Lewis’ book, The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game. The former gym class star, where he was discovered in ninth grade, not playing organized basketball, comes from a tough neighborhood in the Home of the Blues. “It’s hard coming out of Memphis because most everybody is from the projects and struggling trying to make it,” he told me after the last Wizards summer league game.
Maybe a rich, white family didn’t take him in, but Hudson did have a coach, Andre Applewhite, who fought tooth and nail to get him to overcome his academic struggles as a kid. Having repeated the ninth grade and already 19-years old, he was declared ineligible for his senior season of high school after playing just one season of competitive basketball as a junior. Hudson tried to stick around for class, but eventually dropped out of Memphis’ Central High without a diploma. This according to a December 2007 profile of Hudson by the Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell, the same writer who authored the most accomplished profile of John Wall to date.
Applewhite then pushed Hudson to Southwest Tennessee Community College, where he had to earn a GED during his first semester to keep attending. Hudson didn’t graduate from Southwest Tennessee CC, which ultimately forced him to sit out a year before he could play for a D-I program. Obviously some schools backed off recruiting him because of this. Hudson eventually wound up at the University of Tennessee-Martin, where he turned 23 before ever stepping on the basketball court.