March 5, 2002
OVERLAND PARK, Kansas - Marques Johnson, who played for Coach John Wooden's final NCAA championship team as a sophomore at UCLA, heads the 2002 Hillyard Silver Anniversary All-America basketball team selected by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).
Joining Johnson, now a sportscaster for Fox Sports, on the team, all from the Class of 1977, are consensus All-America Kent Benson of Indiana, now a successful businessman and secretary of state candidate in the Hoosier state, Bo Ellis, who led Coach Al McGuire's Marquette University team to the NCAA championship in 1977, Augustana (S.D.) College's Rich Chapman, the president and chief executive officer of Clark Bardes Consulting, the largest compensation and benefits consulting firm in the nation, and Otis Birdsong, who averaged 30.3 points per game for the University of Houston as a consensus All-America.
Abe Lemons, former head coach at Oklahoma City, Pan American and Texas and one of college basketball's legendary personalities, is the 2002 Golden Anniversary Award winner for 50 years of service to basketball.
Lemons and the Hillyard Silver Anniversary All-America recipients will be honored at the annual NABC Awards show on Sunday, March 31, at the Hilton Hotel Grand Ballroom in Atlanta. The event is held in conjunction with the Final Four and the annual NABC convention.
Kent Benson was a three-time All-America selection and two-time Academic All-America selection at Indiana University, where he led Coach Bobby Knight's Hoosiers to the 1976 NCAA championship with an unbeaten 26-0 record. The former Indiana Mr. Basketball at New Castle High, he was the first pick in the 1977 NBA draft by the Milwaukee Bucks and spent 11 seasons in the NBA, earning the Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award for his outstanding accomplishments in community endeavors. A 1989 inductee in the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, Benson founded All-American Estate Planning, which he owns and operates today and has helped raise more than $1 million for Indiana charities and community groups. Benson is a candidate for secretary of state in Indiana and was named president of the Hoosier Project in July of 2001, where he will help develop a grassroots network to pursue excellence in Indiana Government.
A consensus first team All-America and the Southwest Conference Player of the Year in 1977, Otis Birdsong led the University of Houston to the finals of the National Invitation Tournament. Birdsong ranked fourth nationally in scoring as a senior, averaging 30.3 points per game, and was selected as the Southwest Conference's Player of the Decade. His 2,832 career points ranks 12th on the NCAA's all-time scoring list. He was the second pick of the 1977 NBA draft, taken by the Kansas City Kings, and scored over 14,000 points in his NBA career as a four-time all-star while playing with the Kings, New Jersey Nets and Boston Celtics. Birdsong is a color basketball analyst for Conference USA and works for Personalities International, a Roger Staubach sports marketing company in Dallas.
Richard Chapman led his Augustana College of South Dakota team to two NCAA Division II tournament berths in his four seasons and ranks as the second-highest scoring guard in Vikings' history. Chapman scored 1,381 career points and was a three-time all-conference selection and three-time all-academic selection in the North Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Inducted into the Augustana College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1991, Chapman is the president and chief executive officer of Clark Bardes Consulting, the largest compensation and benefits consulting firm in banking history. The recipient of a NCAA Silver Anniversary award in January, he pioneered the development of Fellowship of Christian Athletes organizations on 50 high schools and 10 college campuses in South Dakota. Chapman is active in St. Paul's Outreach program for college campus ministry as a member of the board of directors and with the Summit Academy Advisory Board for inner city educational and career placement service organization.
A three-time All-America selection and member of the NCAA all-tournament team as a Marquette University senior, Bo Ellis closed out his career as the Golden Eagles' second all-time scorer. Ellis didn't miss any of the 119 games in his college career as Coach Al McGuire's teams had an amazing 101-18 record during that span. He led Marquette in rebounding for three straight seasons and is the only player in school history to start in two NCAA championship games, leading his team to the national championship in 1977. The first round draft choice of the Washington Bullets in 1977, Ellis was an assistant coach at Marquette from 1988-98 and had his jersey retired at Marquette in 1992. Ellis, the recipient of a NCAA Silver Anniversary award in January, is the head basketball coach at Chicago State University.
Marques Johnson was a four-year letterman and three-year starter for UCLA, playing for John Wooden and Gene Bartow. In his sophomore season, the 6-7 forward helped lead the Bruins to their 10th NCAA championship in 12 seasons under Wooden. After again helping the Bruins to the Final Four in his junior season, Johnson led UCLA in scoring and rebounding as a senior captain in 1976-77 and was the recipient of the first John R. Wooden Award as the National Player of the Year. The consensus All-America selection was the third pick in the NBA draft by the Milwaukee Bucks and earned all-NBA honors several times in his 10 seasons. Now a basketball analyst for Fox Sports, Johnson has had two sons follow in the UCLA basketball program. Kris played for the Bruins from 1995-98 and Josiah is a freshman forward.
One of the true legends and most entertaining personalities in college basketball, Abe Lemons coached for 34 seasons, leading his teams to a record of 599 wins and 343 losses. Lemons coached for three seasons at Pan American and six at Texas between a total of 25 years at Oklahoma City University, where he had been a standout player, graduating in 1950. Lemons coached at Texas from 1976 until 1982, leading the Longhorns to an NIT championship in 1978 when he was named NABC Coach of the Year. He returned to Oklahoma City in 1983 and coached for seven more seasons until retiring in 1990. His 1986-87 team gained the nation's top ranking in the NAIA with a 34-1 won-lost record. Lemons was inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame in 1990 and is also a member of the Oklahoma City University Hall of Fame.