GREENSBORO, N.C. - Former Duke All-America and National Player of the Year Christian Laettner headlines a list that includes five other former All-Americans, eight other NBA draftees and one other pivotal member of an NCAA National Championship team along with 67 years of experience in the NBA who are represented among the dozen 2007 ACC Basketball Legends, announced today by Commissioner John D. Swofford.
Led by Laettner (1989-92) and All-America point guard Tommy Kearns (1955-58) of North Carolina, both of whom helped lead their teams to national titles - Duke in 1991 and 1992, North Carolina in 1957 - this year’s class features four of the highest scoring backcourt men in their schools’ histories in Buzzy Wilkinson (1953-55) of Virginia, Bimbo Coles (1987-90) of Virginia Tech, Don Curnutt (1968-70) of Miami and Bob Sura (1992-95) of Florida State.
Joining them in this year’s class is Billy Jones (1966-68) of Maryland, the first African-American to play varsity basketball in the ACC; and a couple of mobile big men in Jay Murphy (1980-83) of Boston College and Murray Jarman (1981-84) of Clemson.
Completing the 2007 class are three players who were the prototypical power forwards of the 1990’s. Each possessed a unique blend of power, speed, quickness and ball handling ability not previously seen at that position in Wake Forest’s Rodney Rogers (1991-93), Georgia Tech’s James Forrest (1992-95) and NC State’s Tom Gugliotta (1989-92).
This year’s Legends class will be honored the 2007 ACC Men’s Tournament, which will be held at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Fla. They will be honored at the annual ACC Legends Brunch which will be held at the tournament headquarters hotel, the Marriott Tampa Waterside and Marina, beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 10. Later that afternoon, the Legends will be introduced at halftime of the first semifinal game.
Laettner (Angola, N.Y.) was named the consensus National Player of the Year after leading Duke to the 1992 National Championship. Laettner, who also played a key role in Duke’s 1991 National Title, helped the Blue Devils become the only school to win back-to-back national titles in men’s basketball since the UCLA dynasty of the 1970’s. A two-time recipient of the Anthony J. McKevlin Award, recognizing the top male athlete in the ACC, he was also a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic “Dream Team”, which captured the Olympic Gold Medal in Barcelona, Spain. Laettner was also the author of two of the most famous game-winning shots in NCAA Tournament history against Connecticut in 1990 and Kentucky in the 1992 Regional Finals.
Kearns (Bergenfield, N.J.), a skilled ball handler and playmaker, was an important clutch performer for the 1957 North Carolina team, which captured the NCAA Championship, to complete a perfect 32-0 season. Possibly best remembered as the diminutive point guard, who jumped center against 7-2 Wilt Chamberlain in the 1957 NCAA title game, Kearns preserved the Tar Heels’ perfect season with second half heroics in several victories that year. A two-time All-ACC first-team selection, he earned second-team All-America honors in 1957.
Wilkinson (Pineville, W. Va.), perhaps the most prolific scorer in ACC history, still holds Conference records for highest scoring average for a career (28.6) and season (32.1). During his career with the Cavaliers, he topped the 40-point mark 10 times and twice averaged more than 30 points a game for a season, including a league-leading 30.1 points a game average as a junior. In the ACC’s 55-year history, there have been only four times where a player has averaged 30 or more points per game, and Wilkinson managed two of them.
Coles (Lewisburg, W. Va.) is Virginia Tech’s and the former Metro Conference’s all-time leading scorer, tallying 2,464 points during his four-year career. He led the Metro in scoring three times, including a 26.6 per game average in 1989 as a junior. Coles, the Hokies career assist leader (547), averaged 21.6 for his 115-game collegiate career and was a member of the 1988 U.S. Olympic Team.
Curnutt ( Tipton, Ind.) ranks third on Miami’s all-time scoring list, despite playing in an era where he was limited to just three seasons of varsity play. The sharp shooting guard averaged 26.1 points for a 77-game career, including a 28.4 scoring average as a senior. when he earned 1970 All-America honors.
Sura (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.), is Florida State’s all-time leading scorer having netted 2,130 points during his four-year career in Tallahassee. The wing guard averaged 17.9 points per game for his career, including a 21.2 mark as a senior in 1995. A three-time All-ACC selection, Sura was named the 1992 ACC Rookie of the Year, following a standout freshman campaign.
Jones (Towson, Md.) made Atlantic Coast Conference basketball history in 1966, when he became the first African-American to play in the league. A talented guard, Jones lettered three seasons under former Maryland great Bud Millikan. In addition to playing two seasons with current Terrapin head coach Gary Williams, Jones co-captained the Terps as a senior in 1968, averaging 11.6 points a game as a junior and 10.2 as a senior.
Murphy (Meridien, Conn.), a 6-10 center, started four seasons for Boston College and ranks ninth among school career scorers and rebounders. A two-time All-Big East selection (1982 and 1983), he was also named to the 1980 Big East All-Rookie team. He led the Eagles to four-straight post season appearances, including three NCAA Tournament berths and an 88-36 record during his varsity career.
Jarman (Delray Beach, Fla.) started at center for Clemson during the 1983 and 1984 seasons, averaging 15.0 points a game and shot 57 percent from the field as a senior. Jarman utilized a 42-inch vertical jump to overcome his lack of size in the pivot (he stood just 6-6) in holding his own against such consensus All-Americans as Virginia’s Ralph Sampson and North Carolina’s Sam Perkins. A versatile athlete, Jarman also lettered in track and was drafted by both the NBA and the National Football League.
Rogers (Durham, N.C.) earned 1993 ACC Player of the Year honors, after averaging 21.2 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. The 6-7 power forward led the Demon Deacons to three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances during his three varsity seasons. He ranks third on Wake’s all-time field goal percentage list, making almost 58 percent of his shots for his career. Named an All-America as a junior in ’93, he was also a two-time All-ACC first-team pick.
Forrest (Decatur, Ga.), another 6-7 power forward, turned in one of the most dominating performances in ACC Tournament history, leading Georgia Tech to the 1993 conference title. Playing on three consecutive days in the Charlotte Coliseum, Forrest averaged 26.7 points and 7.0 rebounds, while shooting 69 percent from the field and earned the Everett Case Award as the Tournament MVP. A two-time honorable mention All-America and a first-team All-ACC honoree in 1994, Forrest led Tech to one NIT and two NCAA appearances.
Gugliotta (Huntington Station, N.Y.) is one of the most improved players in ACC history, going from a little-used reserve as a freshman to a lottery pick in the NBA Draft after his senior season. A 6-10 combo forward who could play inside or outside, he averaged 22.5 points as a senior, earning first-team All-ACC honors and third-team All-America accolades. The overall excellence of his game is underscored by the fact that he still ranks among the Top 15 in virtually every career category at NC State.
The Legends will be honored at this year’s ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament in Tampa, Fla. at the annual ACC Basketball Legends Brunch, which will be held on Saturday, March 10 beginning at 10 a.m. Hosted by television personalities Tim Brant and Mike Hogewood, the ACC Men’s Basketball Legends Brunch will be held in the in the Grand Ballroom of the Tampa Marriott Waterside and Marina Hotel. Tickets, priced at $35 each and tables of ten for $350 each, can be obtained by calling the Tampa Bay Sports Commission 1-813-218-3814.