Tim Duncan and Jay Williams Lead 2017 College Basketball HOF Class

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 20th, 2017

One of the most fun things about following college basketball is observing its constant evolution, but it’s also fascinating to look back on the legends who impacted the game regardless of their era. On Sunday night in Kansas City, the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame enshrined its 2017 class, whose membership ranges from a former player-turned analyst who has yet to turn 40 to a pioneer who faced impossible challenges during integration. Let’s take a look at each.

Tim Duncan was an unstoppable force for Wake Forest, showing the dazzling post moves, defensive dominance and tremendous intelligence that made him an all-time great. (Getty)

  • Tim Duncan, Wake Forest: Before he was the linchpin for one of American sports’ top dynasties with the San Antonio Spurs, The Big Fundamental put together one of the most illustrious college careers of any big man to ever play the game. In a four-year career from 1993-97, Duncan was the 1997 National Player of the Year, a two-time consensus First Team All-American, two-time ACC Player of the Year and three-time NABC Defensive Player of the Year. The reserved big man made the game look effortless by combining his raw athletic ability with a high basketball IQ in soaking up the game’s nuances faster than anyone could have imagined. He famously rejected several opportunities to go pro despite favorable projections after each year and became the first player in college basketball history to notch 1,500 points, 1,000 rebounds, 400 blocked shots and 200 assists.
  • Jay Williams, Duke: With a devastating motorcycle injury that effectively limited his playing days to 75 NBA games, Williams’ professional career ended almost as soon as it began. We’ll always wonder what could have been, though, because the 2002 Duke graduate was one of the most talented, explosive and accomplished players the college level has ever seen. Williams was an all-time great college point guard and played a key role on one of the best Duke teams ever, pacing the 2001 National Championship Blue Devils in scoring (21.6 PPG), three-point shooting (42.7% 3FG) and winning the NABC’s Player of the Year award. Even though he had every reason to turn professional that summer, he returned to Durham to get his degree and put up another amazing season by sweeping every NPOY honor in 2002.

  • John Stockton, Gonzaga: Before there was Mark Few, Dan Dickau, Adam Morrison or Kelly Olynyk, there was John Stockton. Stockton never played in an NCAA Tournament game, nor did he make an All-American team during his 1981-84 career in Spokane, but he was Gonzaga’s first star, taking home the 1984 WCC Player of the Year honors while averaging 20.9 points, 7.2 assists and 3.9 steals per game. The future all-timer as a member of the Utah Jazz also shot 57.7 percent from the field that year despite standing just 6’1″. We all know what happened from there, but it all started in a lonely outpost in Spokane in the early 1980s.
  • Bo Ryan: We all know Ryan as the heady leader of the best era of Wisconsin basketball, but even though he retired less than a year ago, it remains staggering how much he accomplished at a place that had largely been a hoops backwater through much of its history. His passion for the game was obvious — after all, coaches don’t toil at Division II schools for 15 years without having basketball in their blood, but that’s what Ryan did at Wisconsin-Platteville before arriving in Madison in 2001. Wisconsin had been to just seven NCAA Tournaments prior to Ryan’s arrival (four in the previous five years under Dick Bennett), but the Badgers never missed another Big Dance under his direction. From 2001-15, Wisconsin went to six Sweet Sixteens and came up just short of beating Duke in the 2015 national title game.

Bo Ryan took Wisconsin basketball to unseen heights during his 15-year tenure in Madson. (M.P. King/State Journal)

  • Scott May, Indiana: A handful of teams in recent years have threatened 1976 Indiana as the only squad to complete an undefeated season, but none have pulled it off. The center May was a standout player throughout his career in Bloomington, but he truly shined as a senior, leading the Hoosiers with per-game averages of 23.5 points and 7.7 rebounds. His teammate and 2015 inductee Quinn Buckner had the better professional career, but no one could touch May that season as he captured every Player of the Year award in college basketball.
  • Paul Silas, Creighton: The Bluejays are in Kansas City this week for the Hall of Fame Classic where they will look to impress the best all-around player to ever come through Omaha. Silas’ 1,751 rebounds from 1961-64 currently ranks sixth in Division I history and first among three-year players. The versatile forward went on to win two NBA titles with the Boston Celtics and a third for the Seattle SuperSonics.
  • Rick Mount, Purdue: Were it not for Larry Bird, Mount might be the player most inextricably tied to basketball in the state of Indiana. Mount grew up in Lebanon and played for Purdue, piling up 2,323 points for the Boilermakers from 1967-70 and leading the team to a banner 1969 season where they won the Big Ten title, made the NCAA Tournament for the first time and surged all the way to the national championship game where they fell to the UCLA dynasty. Mount went on to play six seasons for the Indiana Pacers in the ABA.
  • Cleo Hill, Winston Salem-State: The late Cleo Hill was a trailblazer out of Winston Salem-State. After guiding the Rams to consecutive Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association titles, the St. Louis Hawks tabbed Hill as the eighth pick in the 1961 NBA Draft, making him just the fifth player from a historically black college to be chosen in the first round. Once in the professional ranks, however, Hawks management demanded that coach Paul Seymour limit Hill’s role so that the team’s white players would get the majority of the shots, but Seymour refused and was fired.
Brian Goodman (987 Posts)

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

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