The 2019 Basketball Hall of Fame will have a heavy HBCU flavor.
Former North Carolina A&T guard Al Attles has been selected to the HOF as a contributor as has Chuck Cooper, who briefly went to West Virginia State at one point in his career. The late 1950s Tennessee A&I, now Tennessee State, squads will be enshrined as well.
Attles was a star on the basketball court for NCAT back in the late 1950s and early 60s, helping A&T win back-to-back CIAA crowns when the conference included much of what is now the MEAC. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Warriors where he played alongside Wilt Chamberlain. A prolific scorer in college, Attles was a role player in the pros. But few men have ever played their role so well with a franchise as he is currently in his 59th year as an employee of the franchise.
He most famously led the Warriors to the 1975 NBA title as a coach.
Cooper is going into the Hall as a contributor as well, and for good reason. He holds the distinction of being the first African-American to be drafted to the NBA. He finished his career at Duquesne, but started at West Virginia State when it was one of the early basketball powerhouses of the CIAA. He was drafted by the Boston Celtics on April 25, 1950.
Tennessee A&I earned its way into the Hall of Fame by becoming the first black college to win a national championship. Led by Hall of Fame head coach John McLendon on the sidelines and All-American Dick Barnett on the court, A&I won three-straight NAIA titles during those days when teams could participate in both the NCAA and NAIA Tournaments. The NCAA shied away from giving HBCUs spots in its tournament, so the Tigers dominated the NAIA’s title picture from 1957 through 1959.
One HBCU omission from the list is former Virginia Union star and four-time NBA Defensive Player of The Year Ben Wallace. Wallace was passed over as a finalist for the second year in a row. He currently holds the distinction as the most recent HBCU alumnus to play in the NBA All-Star Game as he was selected five times during his distinguished NBA career.
The 2019 Basketball Hall of Fame Class will be enshrined on Sept. 6 in Springfield, Mass.