Each year, we celebrate the great tradition of Villanova basketball by selecting from past players, coaches, trainers and others a special few for induction into the VUHoops Basketball Hall of Fame. You can visit the Basketball Hall of Fame (under "Sections") to see the nine past inductees.
The 2012 edition of the VU Hoops Hall of Fame is here.
Our process began with the formation of a VUHoops Basketball Hall of Fame Nominating Committee, comprised of three VUHoops writers (Brian, Chris and Ed) and three long-time VUHoops readers (Squeaky Sneakers, Bill ’62 and Original Honey Badger). The Committee considered all Villanova players, coaches and others whose Villanova careers ended at least three years ago and nominated ten finalists – five from the pre-1973 era and five from 1973 and later years. It is now time for the VUHoops readers to cast their ballots to determine those most deserving of induction this year.
The leading vote getter in each of the two pools plus any other nominees who receive at least 33% of the vote in their pool will be included in the 2012 inductee class.
This first poll covers the pre-1973 nominees.
I am proud to present the five nominees from the pre-1973 pool for your consideration.
Coach Al Severance (1936 – 1961) Severance compiled a 413–201 record (.673) over 25 seasons. In addition to coaching basketball, Severance was a professor of business law at Villanova. Under Severance, Villanova's basketball program rose to national prominence. His 1939 team won the first ever NCAA Tournament game, which put them in the first Final Four. Severance’s Wildcat teams reached the NCAA Tournament again in 1949, 1951, and 1955. Villanova earned NIT bids in 1959 and 1960. Severance discovered arguably Villanova’s greatest player ever, Paul Arizin, playing a pick-up game as a Villanova student. Severance yielded the coaching reins to Jack Kraft in 1961 and died 24 years later on the morning of April 1, 1985, the day Villanova won its only NCAA basketball championship. He was inducted posthumously into the Big Five Hall of Fame in 1994.
Additional Commentary on Severance:
- Bill '62: Over 400 wins with a winning percentage among the top of all Division 1 basketball coaches. Led the Wildcats to an average of over 16 wins per season for 25 years during an era when there were a lot less games played per season than we see now. Villanova basketball became nationally recognized under his leadership and guidance. Severance. had the vision to establish Palestra doubleheaders featuring Penn and Villanova, a move that laid the groundwork for the formation of the Big Five … probably the game’s only coach to start an unknown walk-on along the road to the NBA Hall of Fame.
- Honey Badger: Credit the coach who led Villanova basketball to national prominence over a 25 year career, posting a .673 winning percentage while guiding the team to several NCAA Tournament births and a key win in 1939, which propelled the Wildcats into the Final Four..
Larry Hennessy… 6′ 4″ shooting guard … played three varsity seasons from 1950-53 … excellent passer and rebounder … scored 1,737 points (#12 all-time) in 75 games (23.2 ppg; #1 all-time) in only three varsity seasons … on Feb. 14, 1953, scored 45 points against Boston College ten days after scoring 44 points against Canisius …only Paul Arizin and Bob Schafer scored more points in a single game for Villanova.… three time All-American selection … during the 1952-53 season … led the nation in scoring average going into the last game of the season … played professionally in the NBA for the Philadelphia Warriors in 1955-56, and for the Syracuse Nationals in 1956-57 … inducted into the Villanova Hall of Fame … his #14 jersey hangs from the rafters of the Pavilion.
Additional Commentary on Hennessy:
- Squeaky Sneakers: Ineligible to play at the varsity level until he reached his sophomore year. Apply his all-time leading average of 23.2 ppg to Kittles’s 122 games and he’d have easily led all Villanova scorers with 2830 points. Grant this deadly long-range shooter the benefit of the three-point play, he might have scored 3,000 points over his career.
- Bill’62: Epitomized the term "shooting guard". Great all-around player who was among the top scorers in the nation in his senior year. Three-time All American who elevated Villanova basketball to national prominence.
- Honey Badger: A prolific shooting guard who holds the Wildcats all-time record for avg. points per game during his 3 varsity seasons, after all of which he was named an All-American. Recognition for his accolades include induction into the Wildcats Hall of Fame and his jersey hanging from the rafters. Although it was only for a short time, Hennessy also parlayed his dominant college accomplishments into an NBA career.
Bob Schafer was a 6′ 2″ shooting guard … played from 1952 to 1955 … first Villanova player to score over 2000 points with 2,094 points (#4 all time) over 111 games (18.9 ppg; #7 all-time) … strong rebounding guard with 638 rebounds (#23 all time) in only three varsity seasons … unique free throw style, shooting one handed from the far right side of the line, and hit more free throws than any other Villanovan … in January 1953 was abducted at gun point near the Villanova Post Office by mobsters who threatened his life unless he agreed to be "less active" for a couple of games." Coach Severance contacted the FBI but his abductors were never found …Third Team All-America honors in 1954 … played professionally for St. Louis Hawks in 1955-56, and for the Syracuse Nationals in 1956-57, averaging 4.2 ppg over his two year career.
Jim Washington… 6’7″ forward / center … played from 1962-65 … scored 1,146 points (#45 all-time) over 85 games (13.5 ppg;) and grabbed 1,194 rebounds (#2 all-time) over only three varsity seasons … selected by the St. Louis Hawks with the eighth pick of the 1965 NBA Draft … later joined the Chicago Bulls, where he became a fan favorite as the first Bull to average more than ten rebounds per game … also played for the Philadelphia 76ers, Atlanta Hawks, and the Buffalo Braves … retired with 6,637 career rebounds … averaged 10.6 ppg and 8.6 rpg over an 11-year NBA career … inducted into the Big Five Hall of Fame in 1975.
Additional Commentary on Washington:
- Squeaky Sneakers: Number 4, Jim Washington. Another Villanova hoopster limited to three years of competition by NCAA existing rules. Played in only 85 games, yet was the second Villanovan to reach the select circle of 1000 points and 1000 rebounds. Less than ten have followed him into the 1000/1000 club.
Bill Melchionni … 6’1" point guard … played from 1963-1966 … scored 1,612 points (#17 all time) over 84 games (19.2 ppg; #6 all-time) in only three varsity seasons… Most Valuable Player of the 1966 NIT (Cats lost in the semi-finals to NYU) … after graduation, played shortly for the Phillips 66ers, a perennial AAU power before joining the Philadelphia 76ers … played two seasons for the Philadelphia 76ers (1966-68), where he was a key reserve (backing up Wali Jones) … jumped to the ABA’s New York Nets in 1969, where he played for seven seasons ... was a key player in the Nets’ 1974 ABA Championship … played in three ABA All-Star Games, and was named to the All-ABA First Team in 1972 … led the ABA in assists per game in both 1971 and 1972 … finished his professional career averaging 10.6 ppg and 5.0 apg… … inducted into the Big Five Hall of Fame in 1974 … #25 jersey was retired by both the Nets and Villanova.
Please mark your ballot, below, selecting the nominee you believe is most deserving.
Pre-1973 VUHoops Basketball HOF Reader Ballot
Coach Al Severance (1936 – 61) (63 votes)
Larry Hennessy (1950-53) (20 votes)
Bob Schafer (1952 - 55) (7 votes)
Jim Washington (1962-65) (11 votes)
Bill Melchionni (1963-66) (53 votes)
154 total votes