Two HBCU Legends Inducted Into Pro Basketball Hall Of Fame
Prairie View A&M University's Zelmo Beaty and coaching legend John McLendon were officially inducted into the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame Friday in Springfield, Mass.
The journey to the sports’ highest honor was long but now complete for Beaty, who averaged 25 points and 20 rebounds from 1958-62, leading Prairie View A&M to the 1962 NAIA Championship while earning MVP honors.
McLendon, who had previously been enshrined as a contributor to the game, was recognized for a second time as a coach.
Beaty joins Willis Reed of Grambling as the only Southwestern Athletic Conference basketball players in the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame.
The 6-foot-9 center was the third overall pick in the 1962 draft by the then St. Louis Hawks of the American Basketball Association. He played 13 seasons for the Hawks, both in St. Louis and Atlanta, along with the Utah Stars and Los Angeles Lakers. He averaged a double-double for his career with 16 points and more than 10 rebounds per game.
Beaty, who was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014, scored more than 15,000 points and grabbed more than 9,600 rebounds during his pro basketball career. He was a five-time All-Star, and earned playoff MVP honors in leading the Stars to the 1971 ABA Championship.
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.
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.
Beaty and McLendon took their places in the Hall with Shaquille O’Neal, Yao Ming, Allen Iverson, Sheryl Swoopes, coach Tom Izzo, referee Darrell Garretson, multisport player Cumberland Posey, and contributor Jerry Reinsdorf.