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Tuesday, Feb. 17

Hoop hall announces finalists for class of '04

Two former Illini on the list          Send a link to a friend

[FEB. 17, 2004]   SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Highlighting the list of 16 finalists for election into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame are Clyde Drexler, named one of the top 50 players in NBA history as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets; University of Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun, the winningest coach in New England basketball history; and Lynette Woodard, the former Kansas all-American who is the all-time leading scorer in women's collegiate history. Former Illini Jerry Colangelo and John Kerr are on the list as contributors.

The complete list of finalists includes 10 candidates from the North American Screening Committee: players Drexler, Bobby Jones, the late Gus Johnson, Bernard King and Chet Walker; coaches Calhoun, Gene Keady and Bill Sharman; and contributors Colangelo and Dick Vitale.

The other six finalists are coach Harley Redin and player Woodard, candidates from the Women's Screening Committee; players Drazen Dalipagic from the former Yugoslavia and Hortencia Marcari from Brazil, candidates from the International Screening Committee; and contributor Kerr and the late player Maurice Stokes, candidates from the Veterans Screening Committee.

Drexler and Woodard are finalists in their first year of eligibility. Calhoun, King, Vitale, Kerr, Stokes and Marcari are first-time finalists. The remaining finalists have been previously considered by the Honors Committee.

A finalist needs 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee for election into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The class of 2004 will be announced on Monday, April 5, at a news conference in San Antonio, Texas, prior to the NCAA men's championship game. Induction will be Sept. 10.

Former Illini selected as finalists

Jerry Colangelo, a native of Chicago Heights, Ill., has been involved in basketball since earning all-state selection honors at Bloom Township High School in 1957 and then becoming an all-conference selection at the University of Illinois in 1961 and 1962. Colangelo's professional career began in 1966, when he was named head scout and sales and promotion manager for the expansion Chicago Bulls.

Two years later, in 1968, he was named general manager of the expansion Phoenix Suns. At age 28, he was the youngest general manager in professional sports.

Now the CEO and chairman of the Phoenix Suns, Colangelo has been named NBA Executive of the Year four times (1976, 1981, 1989, 1993) and oversees a club that, over the last 23 years, is the fifth winningest franchise in the NBA. During Colangelo's tenure as president and CEO of the Suns (1987-99), the club advanced to the NBA finals in 1976 and 1993.


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Under Colangelo's leadership, the Suns drafted Georgi Glouchkov of Bulgaria in 1985, making him the first player from behind the iron curtain to sign an NBA contract. In 1988, the Suns played the Utah Jazz in Japan, the first time that NBA teams played regular-season games outside of North America.

Colangelo is a member of the NBA's Board of Governors (1968-present), is on the NBA Expansion Committee and is chairman of the Competition and Rules Committee. He was instrumental in helping found the WNBA.

Johnny Kerr, a native of Chicago, Ill., has contributed to basketball for more than 50 years as a player, coach, executive and broadcaster.

An all-state scholastic selection at Tilden Technical School in Chicago, Kerr starred as the University of Illinois, where he led the Illini to the 1952 Final Four and finished his three-year career in 1954 as the school's all-time scorer. His final season, Kerr was an all-conference and Big 10 MVP selection.

Kerr was the sixth overall pick in the 1954 draft and played professionally with the Syracuse Nationals (1954-63), Philadelphia 76ers (1963-65) and the Baltimore Bullets (1969-70). He was a member of Syracuse's 1955 championship team and earned all-star honors in 1956, 1959 and 1963.

He played in a then-record 844 consecutive games, making him one of the NBA's first iron men. For his career, Kerr scored 13,413 points and grabbed 10,930 rebounds.

After his playing days, Kerr became a coach with the Chicago Bulls and Phoenix Suns. He was named NBA Coach of the Year in 1967 for his efforts in taking the expansion Bulls to the playoffs.

Kerr then became an executive with the ABA's Virginia Squires and Chicago Bulls. In 1975, he joined the Bulls' broadcasting team as a color commentator, a position he continues to hold.

For more information on the other finalists, visit

[Provided by Howie Davis, director of sports media, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame]

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