Ben Wallace went from being an undrafted, under-sized center from an HBCU to an All-Star and NBA Champion.
Now the former Virginia Union star can add another accolade to his name — Basketball Hall of Fame.
According to multiple reports, Wallace has been selected to basketball’s highest honor. He is the first undrafted player ever to be elected to the HOF.
After spending two years at a community college in his native Alabama, Wallace was offered a scholarship by legendary coach Dave Robbins at VUU. Wallace made an immediate impact at Virginia Union with an average of 13.4 points per game and 10.0 rebounds per game. He led VUU to the NCAA Division II Final Four with a 28-3 record. As a senior, he was selected as a Division II First Team All American by the NABC. Ben Wallace still holds the school record with 114 blocks in a single season.
Being a 6’9 big man in the CIAA was one thing — being one in the NBA was another. Viewed as a wing player by many NBA scouts, Wallace was not selected in the much-ballyhooed 1996 NBA Draft. Nevertheless, he found his way onto the Washington Wizards as a rookie. He then signed with the Orlando Magic, where he became a starter.
But it was in Detroit where Wallace would earn his spot in the hall. His tenacious defense and rebounding instincts helped made him an icon there, along with his afro. He led the NBA in rebounding in 2002 and 2003, and was named NBA Defensive Player of The Year in both seasons. In 2004 he helped the Pistons defeat the heavily-favored Los Angeles Lakers for the NBA Title. A four-time All-Star, he would go on to win the NBA Defensive Player of The Year Awards back-to-back in 2005 and 2006, tying Dikembe Mutumbo’s record of four in a career.
Wallace finished up his NBA playing career in 2012, and was selected to the CIAA Hall of Fame in 2015. For years there has been a debate as to whether or not his lack of scoring (he averaged just 5.7 ppg in his career) would hamper his case.
Well, the results speak for themself.
The 2021 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame class will be inducted this September. And Ben Wallace, who went undrafted out of a Division II HBCU, will be in that number.