91-year-old college hall inductee proud of honor
LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP)
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 tournament.
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 Carolina.
''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.