Two of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s greatest players – Virginia’s Ralph Sampson and North Carolina’s James Worthy, are part of the 2011 National College Basketball Hall of Fame induction class. Joining Sampson and Worthy for enshrinement will be coaches Bob “The General” Knight (for the greatest Knight exclusive interview in history go here) and Eddie Sutton, players Cazzie Russell and Chris Mullin and contributors Joe Vancisin and Eddie Einhorn.
The Class of 2011 will be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame Sunday, November 20, 2011, at the Midland Theatre in Kansas City as part of a three-day celebration of college basketball. On November 21-22, Missouri, California, Georgia and Notre Dame will compete at Sprint Center in the CBE Classic.
Sampson is one of only two players to win the Naismith Award as player of the year three times (the other is Bill Walton of UCLA). The 7-foot, 4-inch center led Virginia to a National Invitation Tournament championship in 1980 as a freshman and an NCAA Final Four appearance in 1981 as a sophomore. A three-time Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year, Sampson was voted one of the 50 greatest players in ACC history.
Worthy, the 1982 Helms Foundation National Player of the Year, will forever be remembered for being in the right place at the right time as Georgetown’s Freddie Brown threw an errant pass directly to Worthy, sealing a 63-62 victory for North Carolina in the 1982 NCAA title game. Worthy scored 28 points and was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.
Knight recorded 902 wins during his coaching tenure at first Army then Indiana and finally Texas Tech. His Indiana Hoosiers squads won three NCAA national championships. He is a four-time national coach of the year and coached the 1984 United States Olympic men’s basketball team to a gold medal.
Also a four-time coach of the year, Sutton recorded 804 wins during his 36-year coaching career. He was the first coach to take four different teams to the NCAA tournament, doing so with Creighton, Arkansas and Kentucky before taking his alma mater Oklahoma State. His Cowboy teams reached the NCAA Final Four in 1995 and 2004.
A member of the 1965 NCAA Final Four all-tournament team, Russell was a three-time all-American and two-time Big Ten Player of the Year for the Michigan Wolverines. He led the Wolverines to two appearances in the Final Four. Michigan lost to Duke in the 1964 national semifinals and to UCLA in the 1965 championship game. Russell averaged 27 points and nine rebounds over his three-year career.
Mullin is the leading scorer in St. John’s history with more than 2,400 points. He led St. John’s to the 1985 NCAA Final Four, where the team lost to fellow Big East Conference member Georgetown in the national semifinals. Mullin was a two-time Big East player of the year and first-team all-American in addition to being named the John R. Wooden Award winner in 1985 as the national player of the year. He was also a member of both the 1984 and 1992 gold-medal winning U.S. Olympic teams.
Vancisin coached at Yale for 19 seasons, leading the Bulldogs to two Ivy League titles and two NCAA tournament appearances. He left Yale in 1975 to become the NABC’s executive director for 17 years before his retirement in 1992. Under his leadership, the NABC debuted its college all-star game at the NCAA Final Four, elected its first African American president in Georgetown’s John Thompson and adopted a code of ethics.
In 1958 Einhorn produced a nationally syndicated radio broadcast of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. Ten years later – after founding the TVS Television Network to market college games to regional networks – he was instrumental in arranging the “Game of the Century” between Houston and UCLA in the Astrodome, a game that is largely credited with spurring the popularity and growth of the sport on television.
“It is always a goal of the selection committee to honor the game’s great innovators and players, and every year as we look at the potential candidates, we are humbled by the way they played, coached and contributed to the great game of college basketball,” said Reggie Minton, deputy executive director of the NABC and chair of the Hall of Fame selection panel.
In 2006 the first class was inducted into the newly formed National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. That class included the game’s inventor, James Naismith, and possibly its greatest coach in John Wooden. Since that time, four more classes have traveled to Kansas City for a weekend of festivities. Those classes have included the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Danny Manning, Larry Bird and Earvin “Magic” Johnson.