College Hoops Luminaries Take Center Stage at Hall of Fame Inductions

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 19th, 2016

To some degree, the National Collegiate Basketball Hall Of Fame will always live in the shadow of the Naismith Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, which celebrates the game at every level around the world. If you were a great pro, chances are you were also great in college, so why not just cover it all in one fell swoop? That thinking ignores the reality that there will always be highly accomplished college players who, for one reason or another, couldn’t replicate their success at the next level, but that doesn’t mean those NCAA careers shouldn’t get their due somewhere. This Hall of Fame serves those players and coaches as well as the lucky few who were fortunate enough to reach the pinnacle of the game at both levels. On Friday night, eight storied inductees joined the ranks among the best collegians ever. Let’s take a look at each.

Dominique Wilkins, Georgia

Dominique Wilkins put Georgia basketball on the map in the early 80's with his relentless athleticism and thunderous dunks. (SI)

Dominique Wilkins put Georgia basketball on the map in the early 1980s with his relentless athleticism and thunderous dunks. (SI)

The Bulldogs aren’t exactly relevant right now, but they were even less so until the early 1980s when The Human Highlight Film arrived in Athens and changed everything, if only for a short time. In just three seasons, Wilkins scored 1,688 points — including many in intense, dazzling, electrifying fashion — and won SEC Player of the Year in 1981. Alhough the Bulldogs didn’t make the NCAA Tournament in any of ‘Nique’s three seasons, he brought enough attention to the program in the eyes of recruits for Georgia to make three appearances by the end of the decade, including a surprising run to the Final Four in 1983.

Mark Aguirre, DePaul

Mark Aguirre (SI)

Mark Aguirre led a glorious era for DePaul basketball. (SI)

Long before he was the missing piece that put the “Bad Boy” Detroit Pistons over the top, Aguirre starred for his hometown Blue Demons. He was a two-time consensus first-team All-American and averaged 24.5 points per game over three seasons, all of which came before the advent of the three-point line. Aguirre won the Naismith Award in 1980 and The Sporting News‘ Player of the Year award in 1981. Like Wilkins, Aguirre left school a year early, becoming just the second early entrant to go #1 overall in the NBA Draft.

Hugh Durham, Georgia

Hugh Durham is Georgia's greatest basketball coach

Hugh Durham is Georgia’s greatest basketball coach.

It’s only appropriate that Wilkins enters the hall of fame alongside his coach, but Wilkins alone didn’t define Durham’s career. A college lifer, Durham saw it all. As the 34-year-old head coach of Florida State in 1972, Durham made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in his career. After winning their first two games, the Seminoles matched up against three titans in a row. First, they met Adolph Rupp’s Kentucky team in the Regional Final and blew them out of the water. Then, in the Final Four, they beat Dean Smith’s North Carolina squad. They would ultimately fall to John Wooden’s UCLA dynasty in the National Championship, but hey, every team lost to the Bruins in those days. That’s just how it went. Durham would add another Final Four to his resume with Georgia in 1983 — the Bulldogs’ first and only appearance to date — and by the time he called it a career in 1995, he had coached nine All-Americans and 31 NBA Draft picks, including four first-rounders.

Lionel Simmons, La Salle

The L-Train was an indomitable force on the Main Line in Philly

The L-Train was an indomitable force on the Main Line in Philly.

Before there was Jimmer and Doug McDermott, Lionel Simmons captivated the college game with his incredible scoring ability despite playing for a school that wasn’t used to the national spotlight. Simmons piled up 3,217 points in his career, a mark that still ranks third all-time in the sport 26 years after he graduated. More than just a scorer, The L-Train is the only player ever to have compiled more than 3,000 points and 1,100 rebounds in his illustrious career. He took home nearly every National Player of the Year award in 1990 and was tabbed by Sacramento with the #7 pick in that summer’s NBA Draft, but chronic injuries cut short his pro career.

Jamaal Wilkes, UCLA

Jamaal Wilkes

Jamaal Wilkes won just about everywhere he went in his college and professional career.

All Jamaal Wilkes did was win basketball games. That happened for everyone who suited up for UCLA in the early 1970s, but Wilkes was no bystander. Along with Bill Walton and Greg Lee, Wilkes led the Bruins’ freshman team to a 20-0 mark, and when it came time for the real thing, he won a bunch more. Wilkes averaged 15.0 points and 7.4 rebounds in his Bruins career, highlighted by his contributions to the team’s record 88-game winning streak from 1971-74. “Silk” was a two-time consensus first-team All-American and a two-time NCAA champion, and although his college career ended in 1974, the winning didn’t end there. Wilkes earned a ring as a rookie with the 1975 Golden State Warriors and three more as part of the Showtime-era Lakers. Not too shabby.

Doug Collins, Illinois State

Decorated collegian, three-time All-Star, Olympian, coach, broadcaster; You name it, Doug Collins has done it.

All-American, three-time All-Star, Olympian, coach, broadcaster; You name it, Doug Collins has done it. (IllinoisState.edu)

In his three-year varsity career at Illinois State, Collins averaged 29.1 points per game. Prior to his senior year, he was a central figure in the controversial finish of the 1972 Olympic gold medal game loss against the USSR. He then went #1 overall the NBA Draft the following year. A rash of injuries cut his career short just as he was entering his prime, but he went on to become a great ambassador of the game through multiple head coaching stints and a standout broadcasting career that continues to this day.

Bob Boozer, Kansas State

Bob Boozer

Bob Boozer

Boozer started his college career by spurning a scholarship offer to back up some guy named Wilt Chamberlain at Kansas to play down the road at Kansas State and carve out a legacy of his own. It turned out to be a good decision, as Boozer led the Wildcats to the Final Four in 1959. As with Collins, Boozer took pride in the opportunity to represent his country, so much so that he delayed the start of his NBA career by a year so he could maintain eligibility for the 1960 Olympic team. Depending on who you ask, it was that team — not the 1992 Dream Team — that was the most dominant squad Team USA has ever rolled out, steamrolling the competition by an average of 43.6 points per game on its way to Olympic gold.

Mike Montgomery, Montana/Stanford/California

Mike Montgomery Built Stanford into a National Power

Mike Montgomery Built Stanford into a National Power

The Cardinal hadn’t made the NCAA Tournament in the 44 years prior to Montgomery’s arrival but he engineered a three-year turnaround that landed Stanford in The Dance in 1989. From the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, Montgomery led Stanford to its best prolonged stretch, finishing first or second in the Pac-10 in eight consecutive seasons, led by standouts like Brevin Knight, Mark Madsen, Jason and Jarron Collins and Casey Jacobsen. That run was highlighted by a trip to the 1998 Final Four, where Stanford pushed eventual champion Kentucky to the brink in an overtime thriller. After a stint with the Golden State Warriors went sideways, Montgomery returned to college coaching in the late 2000s, leading Cal to the Pac-10 title in 2010.

Brian Goodman (940 Posts)

Brian Goodman a Big 12 microsite writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BSGoodman.


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