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

jump shot.

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.