91-year-old college hall inductee proud of honor
When told that he had been elected to the National Collegiate
Basketball Hall of Fame, Kenny Sailors was proud, thankful and
perhaps relieved he lived long enough to see the honor.
Speaking publicly for the first time since being told he is
being inducted into the hall, the 91-year-old Sailors said
Wednesday night that he was personally notified by Reggie Minton,
chairman of the hall’s selection panel.
”I said Reggie, `I’m glad to hear I’ve been taken in.’ I said,
`It’s been a long time,”’ Sailors said.
Sailors led Wyoming to the 1943 NCAA title. He was the national
player of the year and most outstanding player in the `43 NCAA
He is credited by some with being the first to use the modern
Sailors said he developed the jump shot as a youngster while
playing against his older, taller brother on a makeshift dirt
basketball court on their farm.
He recalled that once he started playing competitively in
school, he drew a lot of offensive fouls while attempting the jump
shot off the dribble because his momentum frequently carried him
into the defensive player. He decided the only solution was to stop
and jump straight up to avoid the fouls.
Joining Sailors in the 10-member class to be inducted in
November are: Kentucky coach Joe B. Hall, Patrick Ewing of
Georgetown, Earl Monroe from Winston-Salem State, Willis Reed of
Grambling, Clyde Lovellette of Kansas and Phil Ford of North
”It’s an honor to go in with players and coaches like that,
sure,” Sailors said.
But the spry Sailors, who still attends Wyoming basketball games
and practices, added jokingly: ”The only advantage I got over them
is I’m good looking and got a jump shot.”
After Wyoming won the NCAA championship in 1943, Sailors
enlisted in the Marines and served in the South Pacific during
World War II. He returned to Wyoming for the 1945-46 season and
once again earned All-America honors.
He played in the NBA for several teams including the Boston
Celtics, Denver Nuggets and Baltimore Bullets.