Huff, West To Be Honored

West Virginia University will retire the playing numbers of two of its all-time great athletes in November ceremonies, athletic director Ed Pastilong announced. This is the first time any WVU jersey numbers have been retired from competition.

Football legend Sam Huff will have his No. 75 retired during the WVU-Pitt game on Thanksgiving night, November 24; that contest starts at 8:00 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN.

Basketball great Jerry West will have his No. 44 retired at the WVU-LSU game at the Coliseum on Saturday, November 26; tipoff is set for 4:44 p.m. and will be televised.

"Having a jersey number retired is the highest honor that an athlete can receive from a team or school," says Pastilong. "Sam Huff and Jerry West represent the best from West Virginia University's athletic tradition. Their outstanding careers and the glory they have brought to the University have earned this honor."

The WVU Athletic Council established criteria for the retirement of numbers and jerseys of student-athletes and unanimously voted to retire the numbers of Huff and West.

A four-year letterwinner, Huff started at guard as a sophomore and tackle the next two years. Known as a reckless and aggressive player, Huff, a native of No. 9 Mine in Marion County, W.Va., helped lead WVU to a combined four-year mark of 31-7 and the 1954 Sugar Bowl.

For his collegiate accomplishments, the 1955 co-captain was named first team All-America by NEA, Look, Jet and NBC-TV. Huff also earned Academic All-America honors.

After being selected to play in the North-South Game, the Senior Bowl and the College Football All-Star Game, Huff was drafted in the third round by the New York Giants. Playing in the NFL from 1956-69, he played in six NFL championship games and in five Pro Bowls for the Giants and Redskins. He had 30 career interceptions and received widespread recognition as the game's top linebacker of that era.

Huff is a member of the both the College (1980) and Pro (1982) Football Halls of Fame. After a successful career in business, he continues to work as a broadcaster.

A native of Chelyan, W.Va., West established 17 WVU records and led the Mountaineers to a mark of 61-12 during his career as West Virginia earned three straight NCAA berths and came within two points of winning the national championship in 1959. A second team All-American in 1958, West earned consensus All-America honors in 1959 and 1960; he averaged 29.3 points and 16.5 rebounds per game as a senior.

Co-captain of the 1960 Olympic team along with Oscar Robertson, they led the USA to a 5-0 record and a victory over Russia to claim the gold medal at Rome. He was also a member of the victorious U.S. squad in the 1958 Pan American Games.

West became the Lakers' first-ever first-round draft pick in the 1960 NBA Draft (second overall). During his 14-year career with the Lakers, West was a 14-time NBA all-star, 10-time all-NBA first team and four-time member of the all-NBA defensive team. He set a then-NBA single game scoring record for guards on Jan. 17, 1962, with 63 points against New York.

Dubbed "Mr. Clutch" because of his ability to produce with the game on the line, West led the Lakers in scoring seven times and was the third player in league history to reach 25,000 points, finishing with a career scoring average of 27.0 points, still fifth-best in NBA history. He holds the NBA record (840) for most free throws made in a season. He was a member of the Lakers' first NBA championship team in Los Angeles in 1972, helping LA to a 69-13 regular season record and a 33-game winning streak, an all-time pro sports record. Upon retiring in 1974, West ranked among the NBA top five in scoring, minutes, field goals and field goal percentage.

West was the Lakers' head coach (1976-79) and then special consultant (1979-82) before a 19-year career as general manager (1982-94) and executive vice president (1995-2000). During that time, the Lakers captured four NBA Championships and made eight trips to the NBA finals.

West was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame (1979), named to the NBA's 35th Anniversary team (1980) and selected as one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history (1997). His #44 jersey was retired by the Lakers in 1983. The current NBA logo is modeled after him.

He came out of retirement in 2002 to serve as president of the Memphis Grizzlies and was named NBA Executive of the Year in 2004, the second time he has won the prestigious award.


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