Lovellette Inducted Into College Basketball Hall of Fame
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Kansas basketball legend Clyde Lovellette was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame Sunday at the Midland Theatre.
The four coaches participating the CBE Hall of Fame Classic, including Kansas’ Bill Self, opened the ceremony and previewed the event for the crowd of approximately 1,000 people. Later in the evening, Lovellette took center stage at the Midland Theatre to receive his induction medal and reflect on his playing days in Lawrence.
Lovellette, who played for the Jayhawks from 1950-52, was a three-time All-American for KU and a key piece in Kansas’ march to its first NCAA title in 1952. The 6-9 center finished his career as the all-time leading scorer in KU history with 1,979 points and held that distinction for 36 years until Danny Manning passed him in 1988. Known for his hook shot, Lovellette scored many of his points without being able to see his target.
“I started out with a good hook and then I had a good one-handed shot,” said Lovellette. “The hook shot has sort of gone away because not many people play with their back to the basket anymore. They’re big enough and moving quicker. They’re out there in front where they can see the basket. I shot my shot with my back to the basket, so I couldn’t see the basket. You had to have that touch and distance. It just came natural.”
Playing for Hall of Fame coach Dr. Forrest C. “Phog” Allen at Kansas, Lovellette led the Big Seven Conference in scoring in each of his three seasons. He was the nation’s top scorer in 1952 with 28.6 points per game and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 1952 NCAA Tournament. Lovellette remains the only player in NCAA history to lead the nation in scoring while playing on a national championship team. He later became the first player to win championships in the NCAA, AAU, NBA and Olympic Games. Known for his humility, Lovellette displayed that quality when accepting his induction.
“There are too many people to thank for being enshrined in the Hall of Fame,” said Lovellette. “It’s always an honor to be inducted to a Hall of Fame. It’s always great to be represented in basketball. That’s been my life ever since I could bounce the ball. Playing for a great coach like Phog Allen and being with a group of guys like Bill Lienhard, Bill Hougland, and Bob Kenney, those are the people that really make the team. Without a staff around you, I wouldn’t be here. I don’t believe one man can win any ballgames. They can have a big impact, but the other four men that are with him, that’s where you develop team play, camaraderie and the real togetherness to win a ballgame.”
Lovellette still ranks fourth all-time in Jayhawk history for total points, while his 24.7 points per game marks the second-best scoring average behind only Wilt Chamberlain’s 29.9 points per game. Lovellette’s career average of 10.5 rebounds per game places him fourth on KU’s all-time charts. The Petersburg, Ind., native believes that anybody who ever donned the Crimson and Blue is part of the tradition whether there are in the record books or not.
“I think anybody who ever played at Kansas is recognized,” said Lovellette. “It’s a great tradition at KU. The people take their basketball to heart. They know the players. They know the old players because their grandpa told them, or uncles or aunts. It’s a family affair at Kansas.”
Lovellette was joined in the induction class of 2012 by Georgetown’s dominating center Patrick Ewing, North Carolina’s star guard Phil Ford, coaches Joe B. Hall and Dave Robbins, players Kenny Sailors, Earl Monroe and Willis Reed and contributors Jim Host and Joe Dean.