There’s a compliment that Dave Robbins, a former Virginia Union University basketball coach, has consistently rejected over the years. He hears that he put Charles Oakley in the NBA.
Not so, Robbins said again on Tuesday.
“His mom and dad put Charles in the NBA. I just didn’t mess him up,” said Robbins. “He had a drive that I had never seen until he arrived on campus.”
Oakley was named the Division II national player of the year as a Panthers senior in 1985, when he averaged 24.3 points and 17.3 rebounds. Oakley, a 6-foot-9 forward, was drafted ninth overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers, traded to Chicago before his rookie year, and played 19 NBA seasons for the Bulls, New York Knicks, Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards and Houston Rockets.
Oakley leads the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2016, announced Tuesday.
Robbins remembers directing Oakley and the Panthers through demanding two-hour workouts and Oakley, on his own, immediately moving to the weight room for an hour of lifting.
“When we signed Charles, that really opened the door for (future VUU greats),” said Robbins, who mentioned Terry Davis, A.J. English, Jamie Waller and Ben Wallace. “Charles was just motivated from the day he got on campus. He set goals for himself.”
Oakley, 52, a Cleveland native, was best known for his rugged rebounding and physical defense. He averaged 12 or more rebounds in each of his four seasons at VUU, and grabbed more than 12,000 rebounds as a pro.
“Charles is deserving of a bunch of hall of fames,” said Robbins, whose teams won 713 games and three Division II national titles in his 30 seasons as the VUU coach. He retired after the 2007-08 season. “I’m glad Virginia recognized him as one of their greats.”
Other members of the class, which will be inducted on April 30 at the Renaissance Portsmouth-Norfolk Waterfront Hotel:
Marianne Stanley, the coach who led Old Dominion to women’s basketball national championships in 1979, 1980 and 1985.
James Farrior, a former Matoaca High and University of Virginia football star. Farrior played 1997-2011 as a Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets linebacker and was a two-time Pro Bowl selection.
Charlie Stukes, a Chesapeake native who played eight NFL seasons as a defensive back with the Baltimore Colts and Los Angeles Rams from 1967 to 1974.
Rob Ukrop, a graduate of Collegiate, was an All-America soccer player in 1992 while at Davidson and played 12 years professionally.
Dave Rosenfield was named Minor League Baseball executive of the year four times while general manager of the Tidewater/Norfolk Tides 1963-2011.
Rich Murray, a Washington and Lee graduate (Class of 1971), distinguished himself in the sports information industry at James Madison and the University of Virginia during a 40-year career.
Inductees are chosen by a statewide Honors Court committee. The Virginia Sports Hall of Fame is in Portsmouth.