Boise State Tribute to Idaho Basketball

With a great start this season, Idaho is near the top of the WAC. The Vandals have enjoyed a consistent history of top-notch basketball. We take a look at that tradition and salute the institution that is the University of Idaho.

(Editor's Note:  This is part of a continuing series of tributes to WAC schools as Boise State completes its final season in the conference.  The series is meant to spread good will throughout the conference, highlight the rich heritage at member schools and to thank the WAC members for having Boise State in their conference for the last ten years.)

The University of Idaho is the state's oldest public university, located in the rural city of Moscow (population 21,700) in the northern portion of the state. As a land-grant university, UI is nestled in the rolling hills of the Palouse region at 2600 feet above sea level.

The territorial legislature of Idaho formed the school on January 30, 1889 and the first graduating class of 1896 consisted of two men and two women. The College of Agriculture was established in 1901 and the Department of Domestic Science (later Home Economics) was the first of its kind in the Pacific Northwest in 1902. The College of Engineering was established in cooperation with the College of Mines in 1907.

The Administration Building, with its 80-foot clock tower was built from 1907-09 and has become an icon of the university. The building holds classrooms, an auditorium, and administrative offices, including the offices of the President and Provost. A north wing was added in 1912, the south wing in 1916 (extended in 1936), and an annex in 1950, displaced by the Albertson addition in 2002. A library was also housed in the Admin. Building until 1957, when a separate structure was completed.

The original Administration Building, with a single tall spire reaching to 163 feet was constructed in the 1890's and ultimately finished in 1899. However, it burned to the ground in 1906. Arson was suspected but never proven. After the fire, there was debate whether to rebuild from the remains or start from scratch; the remaining structure was eventually deemed infeasible to recover and was demolished with dynamite. The original building's steps were saved and currently climb the small hill immediately southeast of the south wing.

President Theodore Roosevelt spoke at the new Administration Building on April 9, 1911 (two years after leaving office) on a platform built of Palouse wheat. The 1909 Administration Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

The master plan for the UI campus was originally designed in 1908 by the Olmsted Brothers, the firm that designed the U.S. Capitol grounds, Central Park in New York City, and other notable college campuses.

In 1920, Idaho's School of Education was established. Idaho is best known for its law school, which was established in 1909 and accredited by the American Bar Association in 1925. The College of Mines building was completed in 1961. The UI Wilderness Research Center was established at Taylor Ranch field station, located in the Idaho Primitive Area (now the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness). In 1971, the College of Forestry Building was completed, which is now known as Natural Resources Building. In 1973, the College of Law Building was completed, renamed "Menard" in 1984.

There are currently over 11,000 students at the U. of I. The university offers 142 degree programs, from accountancy to wildlife resources, including bachelor's, master's, doctoral and specialists' degrees. The campus now includes 1,585 acres including 253 buildings, 22 computer labs, an 18-hole golf course, 80 acres of arboreta and 860 acres of farms.

"Hello Walk" is one of the best-known and traveled pathways on the Idaho campus. It navigates through a rich history of statues, landmarks and traditions. The Hello Walk includes Presidential Grove, where historical figures, such as Teddy Roosevelt and his wife, planted trees; the Spanish War memorial statue who had his hands cut off but was reconstructed by a handless sculptor and Administration Lawn that was designed by the same brothers who designed Central Park in New York City.

The walk was named after Alfred Upham, the president of the university in the 1920s. Upham insisted on saying "hello" to all those he passed on his walk from his house — now where the Campus Christian Center is — to the Administration Building where his office was. He then insisted that this act of kindness be required of all students and faculty on campus, which is how the walk acquired its name.

Referred to as "Tree City" or "The Arb" by UI students, the Arboretum is a 65-acre site adjacent to the golf course which features ponds, display gardens and a wide variety of trees and plants from throughout North America, Asia and Europe.

Rare Camperdown elms line the walkway between the Music building, Child Development Center and Administration Building. These "upside-down" trees have been greeting students for over 80 years and are among few of their kind in the Northwest.

The University of Idaho has granted 71,599 bachelor's degrees, 19,028 master's degrees, 2,270 doctoral degrees, 222 honorary degrees, 917 specialist degrees, and 3,157 law degrees from 1894 through the fall of 2006.

Here are some additional facts about the University of Idaho:

U.S. News & World Report ranks UI, nationally, as a tier 3 school.

Idaho Gem, the world's first cloned equine (a mule), was created by researchers at the University of Idaho and Utah State University.

University of Idaho Master of Architecture program is internationally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, and Also National Architectural Accrediting Board.

Notable alumni of the University of Idaho:

Kristin Armstrong, professional road bicycle racer; won the 2008 Olympics Women's Time Trials gold medal; medaled in the World Championships in 2005, 2006 and 2007, winning the 2006 Championship.

Jeffrey Ashby, astronaut & naval aviator, veteran of three space shuttle missions, including Columbia in 1999.

Terrell Bell, former U.S. Secretary of Education under President Reagan.

Carol Ryrie Brink, author, winner of the 1936 John Newbery Medal for her book Caddie Woodlawn.

Lawrence H. Chamberlain, Dean of Columbia University in 1950, Vice President of Columbia in 1962.

Larry Craig, United States Senator from Idaho.

Bill Fagerbakke, actor, notably of Coach, also the voice of Patrick Star on the SpongeBob SquarePants series.

W. Mark Felt, former top official of the FBI and "Deep Throat", the source that Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein used to investigate the Watergate scandal.

John Friesz, 2006 College Football Hall of Fame inductee and NFL quarterback from 1990-2000.

Philip Habib, diplomat, special presidential envoy to the Middle East under President Reagan.

Dirk Kempthorne, Secretary of the Interior under President George W. Bush; former Governor of Idaho, U.S. Senator and Mayor of Boise.

Jerry Kramer, NFL guard for the Green Bay Packers. Kramer helped the Packer win five NFL titles and the first two Super Bowls. Kramer was an All-Pro in 1960, 1962, 1963, 1966 and 1967.

Jack Lemley, construction manager for Europe's Channel Tunnel, the undersea rail tube linking England and France.

Jim McClure, United States Senator from Idaho.

Dan Monson, current head men's basketball coach at the University of Minnesota.

Dan O'Brien, 1996 Olympic gold medalist in the decathlon. O'Brien was alaso a three-time World Champion (1991, 1993 and 1995) and five-time National Chlampion Decathlete.

Sarah Palin, former Governor of Alaska and 2008 Vice Presidential candidate

Jim Risch, Governor of Idaho and currently United States Senator.

Mark Schlereth, NFL offensive lineman; winner of three Super Bowl championship rings; ESPN commentator.

Frank Shrontz, past chairman and CEO of Boeing.

E.E. "Doc" Smith, science fiction author who wrote the Lensman series and the Skylark series, among others.

Bill Stoneman, Major League Baseball pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, Montreal Expos and California Angels.

Steve Symms, United States Senator from Idaho.

Linda Copple Trout, Idaho Supreme Court Justice; former Chief Justice from 1997-2004.

Wayne Walker, NFL linebacker for the Detroit Lions and sportscaster.

One of the greatest sports in  Idaho  athletic history has been Vandal men's basketball.  Their star never shined brighter than it did under great coach Don Monson.  Monson had been an assistant at  Michigan   State  under Jud Heathcoate and Monson was given credit for recruiting Earvin "Magic" Johnson, who would lead the Spartans to the national title.  When Monson took over in  Moscow ,  Idaho  had finished no higher than sixth place in the Big Sky Conference in seven consecutive seasons. 

Within two years, Monson had turned the program around.  The 1980 Vandal team was second in the Big Sky and 17-10 overall.  The following season,  Idaho  shot out of the gate to a 10-0 record, including road victories over  Nebraska ,  Washington   State  and Gonzaga.  UI finished the year 23-3 with their first ever conference basketball championship.   Idaho  also captured the Big Sky postseason tournament and was seeded 7th in the 48-team NCAA Tournament.  The Vandals ran into #10 seed  Pittsburgh in the opening round and were upset. 

Most of the key players returned for a magical 1981-82 season.  This time,  Idaho  went 16-0 to start the season.  They trounced  Washington  86-61 in  Seattle  They pounded Washington   State  (coached by George Raveling) 68-48.  Monson's team also defeated Gonzaga and captured the eight-team Far West Classic in  Portland , winning all three games by at least 19 points ( Iowa   State , #15  Oregon   State  and  Oregon ).   Idaho 's only setbacks that year in the regular season were to rival  Montana  on a tip-in at the buzzer in  Missoula  and to Notre Dame two days later.  The Vandals finished the season with eight straight wins and capped off their regular season Big Sky title with another Big Sky Tournament championship.  

Idaho  rose to #8 at the end of the season (with a peak of #6 prior to their two losses).  They drew the #3 seed in the West in the 48-team NCAA Tournament and a first-round bye.   Idaho  took on #16  Iowa  in the opening round game just down the road in  Pullman ,  Washington . The Vandals' opponent would be the familiar Oregon State Beavers, whom  Idaho  had already pounded by 22 points in the Far West Classic.  OSU was the #4 seed in the West.  Legendary wily coach Ralph Miller knew that he had to do something different.  And different the Beavers were.  After grabbing a 4-0 lead, OSU went into a stall.  The shot clock had not gone into effect in NCAA basketball at the time, and the Beaver players passed and passed and passed some more, taking 2-3 minutes off the clock per possession.   Idaho  players chased the ball down but inevitably, the strategy would eventually result in an open Beaver lay-up.   Oregon   State  eliminated  Idaho  60-42, ending the greatest season not only in Vandal history but for any in state history.


What made this team so special was that they truly worked as a team.  They had a tremendous balance of inside-outside scoring and all five starters were a threat to score. They had great chemistry and teamwork and their play was beautiful to watch.  Plus, they carried out Monson's brilliant matchup zone defense to perfection.  Kenny Owens (6'0") was the consummate point guard, a penetrator who could score or pass at will.  His play set up his teammates for easy shots.  Owens was a star player at TVCC in
Ontario ,  Oregon  Brian Kellerman (6'5") was a sharpshooting guard whose career points would have been increased significantly had the three-point shot been in place at the time.  Many of Kellerman's baskets were from long-range, although he too could drive his man to the basket.  The forwards were Phil Hopson and another JC transfer, Gordie Herbert, both 6'6".  Hopson was an expert at positioning himself for offensive rebounds, and Herbert kept the opposition off balance with his outside shooting. Another JC transfer, center Kelvin Smith, also 6'6", was the final piece of the puzzle that came in to complete the team.  Smith was an expert shot-blocker and his defensive prowess kept opponents from getting easy shots.  

Guard Don Newman, although he didn't play on those legendary teams, also deserves some credit.  A great player in his own right, Newman began his career at LSU before transferring to  Idaho  He helped turn  Idaho 's program around once Monson took over.  Monson gave him the responsibility of showing recruits around, and Newman's charismatic personality helped win over the players mentioned above. 

"These were not so-called blue chip players," Monson said of the Vandals. "They were kids who were good in their own areas. They weren't really, really talented, but they were unselfish and together on everything and just played with a passion and a mission, and you really had to play well to beat them."  

Hopson blocked 133 shots in his two seasons at  Idaho  and shot 63.2% in 1981-82.  Kelvin Smith was money as well, shooting 56.9%.  Gordie Herbert hit 53.8%, mostly from outside.   Owens led the team with 15.2 points per game and finished the season with 86% accuracy from the line.  The quick-handed Kellerman was a four-year star that finished his career with record totals of 390 assists and 208 steals and is second all-time with 1,583 points.   

Monson, who became a cult hero in  Moscow  for his anguished looks and contorted body expressions, was named the Kodak Division I Coach of the Year.  He stayed in Moscow  for another season, guiding the Vandals to a 13-1 record in the first part of 1983.   Idaho  repeated their Far West Classic title, again downed all four Northwest Pac-10 schools and defeated John Stockton and Gonzaga.  Late-season injuries hurt the team, and they finished 20-7 in the regular season.   Idaho  lost in the first round of the Big Sky Tournament and fell to  Oregon   State  in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament.

Monson's teams from 1980-1983 won 43 consecutive games on the Kibbie Dome floor.   Idaho  was 100-41 in Monson's five years on the Palouse. 

Although Monson is by far the most beloved of all the  Idaho  coaches, several others put together winning records.  W.C. Bleamaster led the Vandals to a 13-2 mark from 1918-1919, R.F. Hutchinson took over the following year and was 14-3.  David MacMillan was 93-35 from 1920-1927, while "Hec" Edmundson took  Idaho  to a 20-9 mark from 1916-1918.  Kermit Davis had two stints in  Moscow  (1988-90 and again in the 1996-97 season) and was 63-29.  Larry Eustachy sported a 61-33 mark while Tim Floyd was 35-25 in a brief stay in  Moscow  (1986-88).  Joe Cipriano took the Vandals to a 43-35 mark from 1960-63 and Charles Finley was 113-94 from 1947-54.    

 

Prominent Vandal Players:



Gus Johnson

Johnson was a thrilling basketball player who was the Dr. J of his day.  He was one of the first forwards to play above the rim, and possessed strength, great leaping ability and speed.  He played two seasons at the collegiate level, one at Boise Junior College and one at Idaho.  Johnson averaged 19 points and an incredible 20.3 rebounds per game for the Vandals who went 20-6 that season.  Upwards of 5,000 fans crammed into a Vandal gym with a capacity of 3,500, a problem ignored by the fire marshal (a self-proclaimed Vandal enthusiast).

Johnson nearly was #1 in the nation in rebounding, edged out by Creighton center Paul Silas (20.6 per game).  Gus set the school record of 31 rebounds against Oregon. Idaho was 4-0 against the Ducks, 4-1 vs. Washington State and 1-1 against Washington. 

In one play against Gonzaga, Johnson snared a defensive rebound and began taking the ball up court.  He spotted a teammate at the other end of the floor and leaped to make the long pass.  A ‘Zag defender jumped up to block the passing lane.  Still in the air, Johnson pulled the ball back, whipped it behind his back three-fourths the length of the court, and hit Chuck White one step from the basket for a lay-up.

I must fit the story of "The Nail" into this tribute.  One evening at the Moscow landmark "Corner Club", a tavern in town, owner Herm Goetz challenged Johnson to demonstrate his amazing leaping ability to the other patrons.  The Club had hardwood floors and substantial beams on the ceiling.  From a standing start near the front bar, Johnson leapt and touched a spot on a beam 11'6" above the floor.  That spot was ceremoniously marked by Goetz with a nail, and Goetz thereby proclaimed that anyone who could duplicate that leap could drink for free. 

In the 23 years that followed, no one could duplicate the feat although a considerable number of people tried.  6'11" UCLA All-American Bill Walton tried during the summer of 1984 and could not do it.  "Too much pizza and beer tonight," Walton said.  Finally in 1986, the College of Southern Idaho team bus stopped in Moscow on their way toCoeur d'Alene for a game with North Idaho College.  Joey Johnson, the younger brother of NBA star Dennis Johnson, was brought into the closed bar by his coach.  Johnson had already recorded a 48" vertical jump.  Johnson touched "The Nail" on his first try, but it was determined that he did not begin from a standing start.  He did not reach The Nail on his second attempt.  On his third try, Johnson leaped, grabbed, and bent the legendary nail.  After this historic achievement, owner Goetz removed the nail and hammered it back in a half inch higher.  In the 1990's, a portion of the Corner Club was condemned and part of the demolished section included the legendary nail.

Johnson was selected in the second round of the 1963 NBA Draft by the Chicago Zephyrs who were moving to Baltimore.  The General Manager of the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1960's said that "when we passed Gus Johnson in the first round, we blew two or three NBA championships." Gus was money as a post-up player, a thrill in the open court and one of the first dunk shot artists in the NBA.  He also was a great defender, who had the speed to be paired with guard Oscar Robertson and the strength to hold his own against the better forwards in the league.  Gus played with the Baltimore Bullets for nine great seasons before his final year split between Phoenix of the NBA andIndiana of the old ABA.  Johnson helped the Pacers win the 1973 ABA Championship.

Johnson averaged 17.3 points and 13.6 rebounds in his initial season and was a member of the All-Rookie team in 1963-64.  In fact, Gus finished second to future Hall of Fame forward Jerry Lucas in balloting for Rookie of the Year.  Baltimore began in the cellar but through wise draft choices, began building a team.  The Bullets drafted Johnson, Rod Thorn, Wali Jones, Jack Marin, Earl Monroe and Wes Unseld.  With that unit, the Bullets catapulted to the top of the NBA's Eastern Division in 1968-69.  They fell to the New York Knicks in the playoffs, but got revenge the next season with a dramatic win in game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.  However, injuries racked up during the series caught up with them and Baltimore was swept by Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Robertson, Bob Daindridge and the Milwaukee Bucks.

You remember the story of The Nail.  While in the NBA, three players in the world could pick a quarter off the top of the backboard, a leap of 13 feet.  They were "Jumpin'" Johnny Jackson of the Harlem Globetrotters, Wilt Chamberlain and Gus Johnson.

During his NBA career, Johnson averaged 17.1 points and 12.7 rebounds per game. He also scored 25 points in 25 minutes in the 1965 NBA All-Star Game.  In his nine seasons with Baltimore, Gus was a five-time NBA All-Star, was named to four All-NBA Second Teams, and was twice selected as a member of the All-NBA Defense Team. Johnson's #25 was retired by the Bullets.  In 2010, Johnson was inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame, an honor that was bestowed far too late for a player the caliber of Johnson.  Sadly, he was not there to enjoy the moment as he died in 1987 at the age of 48.

Boise State and Idaho, however, teamed up to honor him during a conference basketball game between the two teams on January 17, 1987, four months before he was to die of brain cancer.  A sellout crowd of 12,000 at the Boise State Pavilion honored the all-time great, setting a Big Sky attendance record.

Here is what others had to say about the great Gus Johnson:

Earl Monroe--"Gus was ahead of his time, flying through the air for slam dunks, breaking backboards and throwing full-court passes behind his back. He was spectacular, but he also did the nitty gritty jobs, defense and rebounding. With all the guys in the Hall of Game, Gus deserves to be there already."

Abe Pollin, former Owner of the Baltimore/Washington Bullets/Wizards franchise--"I first saw Gus on television...I had never seen a player dominate a game so.  Anyone that ever had the privilege to see him play will never forget what a great basketball player Gus Johnson was."

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, after witnessing one of Johnson's backboard-shattering dunks—"That was one of the greatest basketball plays ever."

Butch Komives--"You've got to remember he was only 6-6. But he had the strength to play Wilt Chamberlain and the quickness to guard Oscar Robertson. No one played the Big O tougher. In my book, Gus was better than Elgin Baylor, Rick Barry or Dr. J. He did it all and never backed down from anyone."

Idaho  assistant coach Wayne Anderson--"He could do things with the ball that were magic."

Ex-Idaho teammate Rich Porter—"You hear so many stories, but believe me almost all of them are true. He was really something special."

In January 1987, during a ceremony in his hometown of  Akron ,  Ohio , Johnson's #43 jersey became the first basketball number retired in Vandal basketball history.  Gus was in the inaugural class of  Idaho 's Hall of Fame in 2007.

 

 

Raymond Brown

Brown excelled on both offense and defense for the Vandals from 1987-89.  He finished his career fifth in scoring (15.8 ppg) and rejected 79 shots (also 5th).  Brown was an All-Big Sky performer in 1988-89.  Raymond had one of the top single performances ever, hitting for 36 points against  Hawai'i  in 1987.  Brown blocked 43 shots that season, seventh all-time at  Idaho .

 

 

Avery Curry

Curry stands third on the all-time scoring list with a career 18.1 average from 1997-99.  He had one of the best scoring seasons in school history in 1997-98, when he averaged 19.7 points a game.  That season, Curry hit a career high of 32 points against  Boise   State  Curry's quick hands enabled him to garner 93 steals, which is 7th all-time.  Avery made the All-Big West Conference team in 1998-99.

 

 

Al Fox:

Fox was selected to the All-Pacific Coast Conference team and made the Helms Foundation All-America team in 1923.




Mac Hopson

Mac played his first season at  Washington   State  before transferring to  Idaho  Vandal fans are glad he did, for he helped revitalize the program.  Hopson finished his great career with 349 assists, second in school history.  Mac had 155 assists in his first season at  Idaho , fifth all-time, and was credited with 194 in 2008 (2nd).  He also had 35 steals, sixth in Vandal history.  He was recognized as an All-WAC performer last season.

 

 

Phil Hopson:

Hopson, #44 in photo, was a key contributor to the #6 Vandal team in 1981.  He finished his great career (1980-1983) with a 56.6% field goal percentage (4th all-time).  Hopson had 733 career rebounds (also 4th) and 127 steals (3rd).  Phil is seventh on the career points list with 1,226.  Despite his obvious value and talent, he was Second Team All-Big Sky in 1981, '82 and '83.

Hopson was a 9th-round draft pick by  Portland  in the 1983 NBA Draft.

 

 

Marvin Jefferson

Jefferson  is one of the Vandals' recent heroes, playing from 2008-2010.  He blocked 122 shots, third all-time, and finished his career with a 55.6% field goal percentage (6th).  He blocked 64 shots last season.

 

 

Brian Kellerman

Kellerman finished his career (1980-1983) with 1,585 points, second all-time.  Brian was 623-1,226 in field goals and nailed 337 free throws in his four-year career at  Idaho . Brian set school records in assists (390) and steals (208).  In 1979-80, Brian had 60 steals, 2nd in the record books.  In the 1981-82 season, Kellerman was credited with 133 assists, 8th all-time and had 34 steals (9th).  He was All-Big Sky in 1981-82 and was named MVP in 1981.

 

 

Orlando  Lightfoot: 

Lightfoot was a scoring machine, ripping the nets for 2,102 points in his career from 1991-1994.  In a game vs. Gonzaga in 1993,  Orlando  poured in 50 points to set a school record.  He had 44 against  Boise   State  that season, 41 against  Sacramento   State  in 1991, 40 against Eastern Washington in '93 and 38 vs.  Montana  in 1992. 

He set a record that still stands when he averaged 23.1 points in his career.  He hit 813-1,704 field goals and was 168-483 in three-point attempts, all records.  Lightfoot connected on 308 (4th all-time) of 437 free throw attempts (3rd) and pulled down 766 rebounds (also 3rd all-time).  

Lightfoot was the Big Sky's Newcomer of the Year when he first graced the courts in 1992 and the conference's Most Valuable Player in both 1992 and 1994.   Orlando  was chosen to the All-Big Sky Conference team all three seasons he played at  Idaho  He led the Vandals to a 24-8 record and the conference title in 1992-93.  Lightfoot was a two-time Sports Illustrated national player of the week.  In his career,  Idaho  was 60-32.  

After leaving  Moscow ,  Orlando  played European basketball from 1994-2007.  He began his professional career with Geneve in  Switzerland  and roared through the league with a 27.5 scoring average and a 9.2 rebounding average.  The following season, Lightfoot played with Houthalen of Belgium, averaging 25.2 and 8.3.  After a season at Versoix in  Switzerland  in which he averaged 24.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, he went back to Houthalen for the 1998-99 season, where he averaged 22.6 points and 6.6 rebounds.  Lightfoot was selected to play in the Belgian League All-State Game in 1999. 

Orlando  averaged 21.2 points and 6.8 rebounds with Braunschweig of Germany before breaking his foot.  He was recognized on the German League All-Imports Second Team.  Lightfoot then played for Herzogtel Trier in  Germany  and averaged 18.2 points and 8.1 rebounds, helping his team reach the Bundesliga Cup Semifinals.  In 2002-03, Lightfoot averaged 21 points and 6 rebounds for Antranik in  Beirut  He played in 17 games the following season for  BSC  Raiffeisen Furstenfeld in  Austria  and averaged 24.9 points and 7.4 rebounds.  Another season; another move, this time to Myleasecar in  Holland , where he averaged 17.7 points and 6.1 rebounds per contest.  That season, he played in the Dutch All-Star Game, was chosen to the All-Dutch Second Team, and helped his team reach the Dutch Semifinals.  In 2005, Lightfoot played for KFUM Jamtland in  Sweden  and averaged 23.9 points and 6.7 rebounds.   Orlando  was selected to play in the Swedish All-Star Game and was the 3-Point Shooting Contest winner.  In his final professional season, he averaged 19 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. 

 

 

Otis Livingston

Otis set a school record with 262 assists in the 1989-90 season.  He was named to the All-Big Sky team in 1990.

 

 

Ken Luckett

Ken was a long-range bomber from 1984-88.  He finished his great career with 1,571 points, third all-time.  He hit 614-of-1,363 field goal attempts.  Luckett nailed 272-383 three-point tries for 38.3% and dished out 257 assists in his career (8th all-time).  Ken connected on a record 53.6% of his three-point tries in his freshman year.  Luckett made the Second Team All-Big Sky in 1986.

 

 

Dwight Morrison

Dwight had perfect positioning around the basket, resulting in numerous second chances for the  Idaho  offense.  He finished his career with 791 rebounds, a record that stood until Deon Watson topped him in 1994.  Morrison is still second in school history with that mark.  Dwight had a 12.3 rebounding average in the 1952-53 season.

 

 

Lorenzo Nash

Lorenzo was one of the best at spotting the open man.  He had 163 assists in the 1988-89 season, fourth all-time at  Idaho .

 

 

Don Newman

Newman played one year for LSU before transferring to  Idaho  In his two years at  Moscow , he averaged 17.9 points per game (4th) and accumulated 117 steals (4th all-time) and 281 assists (5th).  Newman set an all-time mark with 64 steals in the 1978-79 season and had another 33 steals the following season (10th).  He dished out 132 assists his junior year (9th all-time) and had 149 the following season (6th).  Don was named Second Team All-Big Sky in 1979 and First Team in 1980.

Newman was drafted by the Indiana Pacers in the fourth round of the 1979 Draft (while he was a junior) and then was drafted by the Boston Celtics in the third round of the 1980 Draft.  He nearly made the Celtics team but was the final player cut.  Newman played three seasons in the Continental Basketball Association for  Montana  He then played seven seasons in the Canadian Football League.  After his playing days, Newman went back to  Idaho  to earn his bachelor's degree and also served as a high school basketball and football coach in  Moscow

Don spent five seasons as an assistant coach at  Washington   State  while also earning his master's degree in education.  He became the head coach of  Sacramento   State  in 1992 and then joined the staff at  Arizona   State  in 1997.  In October of 1997, Newman was named the interim head coach and led the Sun Devils to an 18-14 record and NIT berth.  He then became an assistant with  Oregon  for a year and was named an assistant coach of the Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA in 1999.  After four seasons in Milwaukee , Don joined the staff of the New Jersey Nets and was an assistant coach for the USA Basketball team in the 2002 World Championships.  In 2004, Newman was hired by the San Antonio Spurs as an assistant coach. 

 

Ken Owens:

Owens was a record-setting guard for Treasure Valley Community College (TVCC) in  Ontario  prior to coming to  Idaho  and making magic. 

"I initially didn't offer him a scholarship, and after a visit to campus, I drove him back down to  Lewiston  to get him on a plane and told him I had him three or four guys at his position," Monson said. "Then Owens said, 'Hey coach, I'm telling you right now. You take me and I'll win for you.'"

Monson did take Owens, and  Idaho  was 52-7 in Owens' two seasons.  "I wasn't even too convinced until he got in and started playing with the other kids, but from there on in, he convinced everybody," Monson said. "He was just a rock. A little guy who found his way out West and showed people he could play."

Owens said the key to  Idaho 's success was the incredible team chemistry.

"We just put egos aside," Owens said. "We all had the same common goal, and that goal was to win the Big Sky, put  Idaho  on the map, and make it to the NCAA Tournament, and we knew that the only way to reach that goal was for everyone to make sacrifices for the good of the team.  "When we won, everybody got the glory."

"Brian Kellerman had been there a couple years and he was the glue to our ball club," Monson said. "When Kenny came aboard, it just turned over.  He was a guy who could run the team, he could score, he defended, he was extremely strong with the ball and made very few mistakes."

Owens was ice from the free-throw line, connecting on 80.3% of his career attempts, 8th all-time.  He had 101 steals in two seasons, good for fifth all-time and had 234 assists (10th).

As a junior, Owens was a second-team all-Big Sky pick, but earned All-Big Sky All-Tournament honors and was selected as the Tournament MVP.  Owens elevated his game in his senior season and was honored on the All-Big Sky Team and chosen as the league MVP.  He had 36 steals that season, fifth all-time.  Owens again was named Big Sky Tournament MVP and was an honorable mention All-American as well. 

Kenny was chosen by the Seattle Super Sonics in the fourth round of the 1982 NBA Draft.  He earned a Counseling degree from  Idaho  and joined the coaching staff at Columbia   Basin   College , where he has been since. 

Owens was selected to the Big Sky's 25th Anniversary Team in 1988 and was recently inducted into the Vandal Hall of Fame.

 

Fred Quinn:

Quinn was a star player from 1942-47.  Quinn helped the Vandals record their first 20-win season in 1945-46 when they went 23-11.  He paced  Idaho  with 9.3 points per game and was named to the All-Pacific Coast Conference team.  Quinn also made the Helms Second Team All-America squad.

 

Gary Simmons:

Simmons was recognized by four organizations as a Second-Team All-American following his 1957-58 campaign in which he led the Pacific Coast Conference in scoring (20.4 ppg).  Simmons beat out star football players Jerry Kramer and Wayne Walker as the "Best Athlete on Campus" in 1958.

Simmons once made 26 consecutive free throws and his 15-20 effort at the line and 37 points helped  Idaho  defeat UCLA.   Gary  also canned 38 against USC.  He scored 1,066 career points, still 11th all-time at  Idaho . 

A product of  Twin Falls ,  Idaho , Simmons was honored by the Idaho High School Activities Association as the Basketball Player of the Century.  His #6 jersey was retired by the  University  of  Idaho  Simmons was among the inaugural class voted into the Idaho Athletics Hall of Fame in 2007.

Simmons became a successful dentist in  California  before retiring to  McCall ,  Idaho .

 

 

Kelvin Smith

This great force inside hit 55.8% of his shots from 1981-83, fifth all-time at  Idaho  He set a record with 133 blocked shots despite playing only two seasons.  He blocked 61 shots in 1981-82 and followed that up with a record 72 his senior year.  Kelvin was an All-Big Sky Conference selection in 1983.

 

 

Riley Smith:

Smith was built like a truck and he used his muscle to considerable advantage from 1988-1990.  He was simply unstoppable. Riley hit for a career-high 35 against  Montana in 1989 and scored 1,195 points his senior year.   Smith finished his career with a 19.3 average, second only to Lightfoot, and set a Vandal record with an impressive 62.7% career field goal percentage.  Riley was All-Big Sky in both 1989 and 1990 and was MVP his senior season.

 

 

Deon Watson

Watson was a versatile performer from 1990-94, doing damage both inside and outside.  Deon scored 1,125 career points, 10th all-time, and hit 53.3% of his shots.  He set an all-time mark with 877 career rebounds and connected on 38.2% of his three-point tries (7th all-time).  Deon blocked 131 shots, second only to Kelvin Smith's 133.  He had 45 of those blocks as a sophomore.  Watson was chosen All-Big Sky in 1994.

 


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