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Highlighting a Buccaneer Legend

A local sports writer has captured the ups and downs of one of East Tennessee State's great basketball players in a new book.
Trey Williams of the Johnson City Press recently published “Skeeter” about Harley “Skeeter” Swift and covers things like his tough childhood, being able to lead ETSU through March Madness in 1968, his career in the ABA and his personal struggles and bout with bipolar disorder.
The chapter on the 1968 Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Championship game against Murray State had an interesting twist to it as Mountain City's own Ralph Stout was officiating the contest.
There are quotes from Stout in the book.
The Buccaneers defeated Florida State in the opening round of the tournament to reach the school's only Sweet 16 in school history.
Swift was a dynamic player who is still considered one of the best to ever play at ETSU.
“Mountain City’s Ralph Stout knows Skeeter well. Ralph talked at length in two interviews while trying to help recapture Skeeter and the late-60s OVC era. In fact, Ralph all but assured New Orleans Buccaneers coach Babe McCarthy that Skeeter could play in the ABA when McCarthy was worried Skeeter would be too short to be the ideal wing and too slow to be a lead guard,” Williams said.
Swift also went to Cameron Indoor Stadium and led ETSU to a win.
“Scoring a record 41 points at Western Kentucky, a team-high 20 points in a win at No. 9 Duke and a game-high 22 points in ETSU’s NCAA Tournament victory against Dave Cowens-led Florida State synopsizes Skeeter’s success. But his legend was also bolstered by drop-kicking a field goal in high school and making numerous shots at the buzzer, including several from beyond halfcourt,” Williams said.
Swift grew up rough in Washington, D.C. and was an overweight kid, but the kids on the streets were shocked at how well he could play basketball.
“In some 70 interviews I conducted, he drew such descriptions as a “fat Pistol Pete Maravich” and a “white Meadowlark Lemon,” Williams said.
Swift played in the old ABA for five teams in five years and then he moved on to coaching where he even had a stint at Oak Hill Academy.
“The book doesn’t gloss over Skeeter’s shortcomings. He’s been married five times and he had six coaching jobs in a six-year span, and he’ll tell you bipolar disorder helped accumulate such numbers. Skeeter was diagnosed in 1994, and has been married to the same woman, Demetria Harr, since he began taking lithium after the diagnosis,” Williams said.
The legend of “Skeeter is one that is growing and he will always be one of the Buccaneers' greats.
“It was impressive learning how many former pros seemed eager to discuss the player and/or character Skeeter was. Hall of Famer George Gervin, two-time ABA Most Valuable Player Mel Daniels, former No. 3 overall NBA pick Clem Haskins and ABA All-Stars Warren Jabali, Steve “Snapper” Jones and George Thompson all made it clear that Skeeter was unforgettable,” Williams said.
To order “Skeeter”, go to www.skeeterswift.com.