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HOUSTON (CBS Houston) - Guy V. Lewis, University of Houston men’s head basketball coach from 1956-1986, was officially selected as an inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The Enshrinement Class of 2013 also named North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell, NBA legends Bernard King and Gary Payton, Louisville coach Rick Pitino, Virginia star Dawn Staley, and former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian as fellow inductees.
Lewis, famously known as the Father of Phi Slama Jama, coached the 1968 National Player of the Year Elvin Hayes and All-American legends Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler.
“To me, this is one of the greatest wrongs that has been made right. I am ecstatic. It is tremendous to hear that Guy V. Lewis is in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Nothing could be put into words to express how happy I am for Coach Lewis.
“He was a hard worker, he was dedicated to the University, his players and his family, and he made sacrifices … to take on another family (his teams) each year. He is just a super, unique and caring person,” Hayes said.
Drexler shared similar sentiments on the long-awaited announcement of the former Cougar coach.
“I am very happy for Coach Lewis, his family and Cougars everywhere. He was a phenomenal coach, and it’s good to see him put on the pedestal with his peers.”
Lewis accumulated 592 career wins and led the Cougars to five Final Four appearances, 14 NCAA Tournament appearances, and 17 postseason berths. However, his revolutionary ideas forever changed the game of college basketball.
“Coach Lewis was an outstanding leader of young men, a pioneer in racial integration in this region and a visionary who instinctively realized the popularity of college basketball across the country. Without question, the game of college basketball continues to feel his impact today,” said Mack Rhoades, Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics.
Lewis made historical achievements in basketball history with his outside-the-box thinking. He integrated college basketball in the South with some of the earliest African-American players in the region. Lewis recruited the first African-American student-athletes, Elvin Hayes and Don Chaney, into Houston’s basketball program. He also was the catalyst to moving college basketball to larger arenas and prime time television. The 1968 game between No. 1 UCLA and No. 2 Houston drew over 52,000 fans in the Astrodome and was the first regular season game televised nationally.
“This is an exciting day for Houston Basketball! Everyone in our program celebrates this Hall of Fame honor with Coach Lewis and his family,” head coach James Dickey said.
“Coach Lewis was a trailblazer in recruiting and assembled tremendous talent. With his teams and the way they played the game, college basketball fans everywhere knew the Houston Cougars and Phi Slama Jama. Coach Lewis’ excellence was spread out through the decades with great teams, great players and great moments from the 60s and 70s as well as the 80s.
With three of his former stars already enshrined, it is only fitting that their coach take his rightful place in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.”
Lewis will be enshrined with fellow inductees on September 8 in Springfield, Massachusetts.