HOUSTON, Texas – Legendary basketball coach and innovator John McLendon was announced as a member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement class of 2016 as a coach. He will be honored Sept. 8-10 in Springfield, Massachusetts.
The announcement was made today in Houston, the site of the 2016 NCAA Men’s Final Four, and televised live on ESPN SportsCenter.
McLendon had previously been enshrined to the Hall of Fame in 1979 as a contributor to the game.
McLendon started his college coaching career at North Carolina Central University (then known as North Carolina College) in 1937 and served as the Eagles head basketball coach from 1940-52.
In September, he will enter the hall posthumously as a coach.
Born April 5, 1915 in Hiawatha, Kansas, McLendon’s contributions to the sport of basketball are virtually innumerable. His advisor at the University of Kansas was the inventor of basketball, Dr. James Naismith.
During his career, McLendon coached on the collegiate level at North Carolina Central, Hampton, Tennessee State, Kentucky State and Cleveland State. In professional basketball, he was the first African American to coach the pro game with the Cleveland Pipers of the American Basketball League in 1961, and he also coached the Denver Rockets of the American Basketball Association.
McLendon was elected into the Tennessee State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1983, the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Cleveland State Hall of Fame in 2007.
During his time at NCCU, McLendon pioneered basketball’s full court game, using such strategies as the full court press, the full court zone (now known as the zone press), the open center offense whose variants include the “four corners,” the rotating pivot, and the double-pivot.
In 38 years as a head coach, he achieved a collegiate coaching record of 523 wins to 165 losses for a .760 winning percentage, including a 239-68 record at NCCU. He was the first coach to win three consecutive national championships, leading Tennessee State to NAIA National Championships in 1957, 1958 and 1959. He was also the first black coach in a professional basketball league (with the Cleveland Pipers in the American Basketball League in 1961) and the first black coach at a predominantly white university (Cleveland State employed him in June 1966).
In addition to McLendon, this year’s class includes 27-year NBA referee Darell Garretson, eleven-time NBA All-Star Allen Iverson, two-time NABC Coach of the Year Tom Izzo,, three-time NBA Finals MVP Shaquille O’Neal and four-time WNBA Champion Sheryl Swoopes. Distinguished committees focused on preserving all areas from the game also selected four directly elected members. They include former Prairie View A&M star Zelmo Beaty from the Veterans Committee, Yao Ming from the International Committee, Cumberland Posey from the Early African American Pioneers Committee and Jerry Reinsdorf from the Contributor Committee.