Ewing gets called into college hall of fame
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Joe B. Hall played under Adolph Rupp at Kentucky in the late-1940s. He spent seven years as an assistant to the Baron of the Bluegrass, too.
So when Rupp stepped down after winning nearly 900 games and four national championships, and Hall was appointed his successor, the size of the challenge never really occurred to him.
"I wasn't in awe of Coach Rupp," Hall said. "I never attempted to reach his shadow in the program. I just felt very honored to have coached in that program and to follow Coach Rupp."
Ignorance certainly turned out to be bliss. Hall won nearly 300 games for the Wildcats, and reached the same pinnacle as his predecessor when he captured the 1978 national title.
On Tuesday, Hall was announced as part of the 10-member class that will be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in November.
"It means so much to me personally, but it also makes me proud of my family, and for all the players that I coached, to the assistant coaches," Hall said. "It's also an extra honor to be coming into this Hall of Fame with such an illustrious group of honorees."
The rest of the class includes a trio of future New York Knicks: Patrick Ewing of Georgetown, Earl Monroe from Winston-Salem State and Willis Reed of Grambling. Kansas star Clyde Lovellette was selected along with North Carolina's Phil Ford and Wyoming's Kenny Sailors.
Dave Robbins, who won more than 700 games at Virginia Union, joins Hall as the two coaches to be inducted. Businessmen Jim Host and Joe Dean will go in as contributors.
"All of these individuals have played key role in the growth and foundation of our wonderful and great game," said Reggie Minton, the deputy executive director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the chairman of the Hall of Fame selection panel.
Before becoming one of the NBA's best post players, Ewing was a dominant center for the Hoyas of coach John Thompson, earning consensus All-America honors three straight years.
The 7-foot center helped the Hoyas reach the NCAA championship game as a freshman, where they fell to North Carolina. He cut down the nets as a junior when he led Georgetown past Houston, and was part of one of the NCAA tournament's greatest upsets when eighth-seeded Villanova beat the No. 1 seed Hoyas 66-64 for the championship his senior season.
Ewing later played for two gold medal-winning Olympic teams, and amassed more than 24,000 points and 11,000 rebounds during a Hall of Fame career for the Knicks. Ewing played his final season (2001-2002) with the Orlando Magic and became an assistant coach for the team in 2007.
Lovellette in many ways laid the blueprint for how Ewing played his position. The 6-foot-9 center was a three-time All-American for coach Phog Allen at Kansas, and was the nation's top scorer in 1952, when he was voted most valuable player of the NCAA tournament.
Ford was the first freshman to start the first game of his career under Hall of Fame coach Dean Smith at North Carolina, and was the national player of the year as a senior.
"This is a tremendous honor," said Ford, who played for the Kings, Nets, Bucks and Rockets in the NBA. "Truly one that caught me off guard."
Monroe never caught anybody off guard. Playing for Clarence "Big House" Gaines, he averaged 41.5 points per game and led Winston-Salem State to the Division II title in 1967.
"The Class of 2012 has incredible roots in college basketball," Minton said. "This group of coaches, players and contributors will no doubt bring back memories of national championships, all-American performances and the tremendous growth of the sport throughout the years."
The first class was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006, and the newest class will be enshrined on Nov. 18 as part of an annual college hoops celebration in Kansas City.
The following night at the Sprint Center, Kansas, Saint Louis, Texas A&M and Washington State will play semifinal games in the CBE Classic, with the winners advancing to the title game.
"It's a great privilege, it's a great honor and I'm just overwhelmed with this event, and what it means to me to be included," Hall said. "No one is more appreciative than I am."