"This year's class of honorary degree recipients comes from different backgrounds and professions, and each has an important connection to WVU," said WVU President David C. Hardesty Jr. "Jerry West, a physical education graduate, made his mark on the college and professional hardwoods -- then in the NBA board room. Marshall Miller, one of our geology graduates, rose to be a top executive in the energy industry, and Purnell Choppin, who serves on WVU's health sciences advisory council, distinguished himself as an international biomedical researcher and scientist. All three are most deserving of this coveted honor and also serve as important role models for this year's graduating class."
West is a 1960 graduate of the WVU School of Physical Education and serves as president of basketball operations for the Memphis Grizzlies.
A native of Cheylan, W.Va., he led the Mountaineers to three straight NCAA berths and within two points of winning the national championship during his playing days at WVU.
The two-time All-American also set 17 school records and ended his college career with a 24.8 scoring average.
He was the Lakers' first pick in the 1960 college draft, but before joining the NBA, served as co-captain of the gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic basketball team in Rome in 1960. He also was a member of the victorious U.S. squad in the 1958 Pan American Games.
During his 14-year professional career - all with the Lakers - he scored 25,192 points, the third player to reach the 25,000 mark, and still the sixth highest total in NBA history.
West was selected to the All-NBA first team 10 times and the All-Defensive first team four times. He was selected to play in the All-Star Game for 13 consecutive seasons and was MVP of the 1972 classic at The Forum and NBA Playoff MVP in 1969.
He was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1979 and was named to the NBA's 35th Anniversary Team in 1980. After he retired as a player, West served the Lakers as head coach for several years and later as general manager.
During his time as GM, the Lakers won three NBA titles while averaging better than 60 wins per season. His alma mater has honored him with induction into the Academy of Distinguished Alumni, the School of Physical Education Hall of Fame, the Athletic Department Hall of Fame - and most recently, with the retiring of his jersey.