Most images of John Wooden date from his long and successful tenure as coach of the UCLA Bruins.
In 1930, though, Wooden was a couple thousand miles away, as a college basketball star in the making at Purdue University. An extremely rare original 1930 photograph of the legendary coach, one of only a handful of known images from his playing days, is now up for auction.
The 8×10 photograph of the 20-year-old Wooden was taken by J.G. Allen, a local photographer. Stamped on the back with a December 27, 1930 date, the image has often been reproduced, but the photo at auction is the only vintage example known to have ever been offered at auction, according to RMY Auctions, which is offering it as part of a 1,300-lot online catalog this week.
Newspapers of the day often referred to the Indiana native as “Johnny Wooden” but his fame stretched well beyond the borders of his home state, even as a young man.
The 1930-31 season was one of three years in which Wooden was named an All-American. A 5’10 guard for the Boilermakers, he would be the National Player of the Year in 1932, then embark on a four decade journey that led him from high school to the top of the college basketball coaching ranks.
Bidding continues through Saturday at RMYAuctions.com.