For a second consecutive year, two local coaching legends knocked on the door to basketball immortality. But neither Robert Hughes or Leta Andrews received the news they hoped to get from representatives at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
The 2016 induction class, announced Monday in conjunction with Final Four activities, will not include either of the record-setting high school coaches who made their marks at area schools.
Hughes, 87, owns the record for most career victories by a boys high school coach. In 47 seasons, Hughes’ teams won 1,333 games and five state championships at Fort Worth Dunbar and Fort Worth I.M. Terrell.
It kind of leaves you with a dry mouth. I don’t know what the situation is with me. I don’t have the slightest idea as to what the holdup is. Whatever they’re going to do, they’ll do it. And there’s nothing you can do about it.
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Andrews, 78, spent 51 seasons coaching at five schools. She owns the all-time record for career victories by a high school coach, male or female (1,416), and won one state title. Included were two separate coaching stints at Granbury, where she was a player in high school.
But voters at the Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., did not cast enough ballots to enshrine either of the local finalists. The new Hall of Famers with Texas connections include former NBA standout Shaquille O’Neal, who played high school basketball in San Antonio, and former Houston Rockets star Yao Ming. Sheryl Swoopes, who led Texas Tech to an NCAA women’s title in 1993 and was part of four WNBA title teams with the Houston Comets (1997-2000), also joined the 2016 induction class.
This year’s class also included nine-time NBA all-star Allen Iverson, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo and Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf.
I was sad for about 30 seconds. Then, I thought about how it was such a blessing to be nominated. I look at it this way: My day will come if it’s meant to be.
Both retired coaches also were finalists on the 2015 ballot, the first time they had made the final stage. Reached by phone, Hughes expressed disappointment and resignation at being omitted from the festivities.
“It kind of leaves you with a dry mouth,” said Hughes, who cited longer-than-expected waits for eventual Hall of Famers in other sports, including former Dallas Cowboys standout Charles Haley. “I don’t know what the situation is with me. I don’t have the slightest idea as to what the holdup is. Whatever they’re going to do, they’ll do it. And there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Looking toward next year, Hughes said: “I’ll just sit here with my fingers crossed and hope for the best.”
Andrews, likewise, expressed disappointment at falling short of the necessary 18 votes from the 24 Hall of Fame electors to earn enshrinement.
“I was sad for about 30 seconds,” Andrews said in a phone interview. “Then, I thought about how it was such a blessing to be nominated. I look at it this way: My day will come if it’s meant to be.”
Hughes said he got no indication from Hall of Fame officials about how close he came to induction. Andrews said she was told that she “got quite a few votes” but not enough to be part of the induction ceremony in September.
Hughes won five state championships, earned 35 district titles and took teams to the state tournament on 17 occasions during his tenure in Fort Worth. He won two UIL state titles at Dunbar (1993, 2003). During the era of racial segregation, he led Terrell to three state championships in the Prairie View Interscholastic League (1963, 1965, 1967).
Andrews won her lone UIL state title in 1990 while working at Corpus Christi Calallen. But she had successful teams over a span of more than five decades that included stops at Tolar, Gustine, Comanche and Granbury (twice). Andrews’ teams made 14 appearances at the UIL state tournament.