EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) -The Missouri Valley Conference will honor its past when the league conducts its annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony in St. Louis on Friday, March 6, 2020. University of Evansville basketball legend Larry Humes will be among the inductees.
The 23rd MVC Hall of Fame class features a two-sport (baseball/football) student-athlete in Mike Prior (Illinois State); a baseball student-athlete in Bill Mueller (Missouri State); a four-time NCAA track & field pole vault champion in Kylie Hutson (Indiana State); coaching legends Richard “Itchy” Jones (Southern Illinois baseball) and Phog Allen (Kansas basketball) and Humes.
Humes left the University of Evansville as the leading scorer in program history with 2,236 points and he currently ranks third on that list, despite not playing in an era with the three-point line. His teams won two NCAA National Championships while Humes averaged 32.5 points per game as a junior and 31.0 during his senior campaign of 1965-66.
“I am honored to be selected to be in the MVC Hall of Fame. I appreciate the committee who thought that I did enough to deserve that honor,” Humes said. “My time in Evansville was great. The fans were unbelievable and probably the greatest in the country. To be able to play at Roberts Stadium and win for our fans was a great honor and it remains that way today. I still remember those special nights at Roberts and playing with my teammates.”
For Humes, it is the second major honor of the year for him as it was announced earlier in 2019 that he would be in the latest class to enter the Small College Basketball Hall of Fame. That ceremony is set to take place on October 31 in St. Joseph, Mo.
The league will conduct its annual Hall of Fame ceremony as part the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Men’s Basketball Championship next March 5-8. The March 6 festivities will begin with an 8:00 a.m. breakfast, followed by the induction ceremony at 8:30 a.m.
Tickets to the 2020 Hall of Fame event – scheduled to be held at Stifel Theatre (formerly known as the Peabody Opera House), which is adjacent to Enterprise Center (formerly known as Scottrade Center) – can be obtained by calling the league office at (314) 444-4300. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Humes finished his UE career in 1966, leading the team to an overall mark of 73-12, three NCAA Tournament appearances and two National Championships. He was a member of the best team in school history, the 1964-65 NCAA Championship squad, which went a perfect 29-0 with wins over Iowa, Northwestern, Massachusetts and Notre Dame. Humes was a sophomore on the 1963-64 National Championship team. He took the time to reminisce about his time at Evansville and truly enjoyed what his teams were able to accomplish.
“Our 1964 team was a special team. Arad McCutchan used a platoon system where the starters played the first ten minutes, the reserves played the next ten, they then switched off five more minutes each before the best players on the floor saw the final 10 minutes. Coach McCutchan was so far ahead of his time with how he ran his team,” Humes explained.
He went on to detail the undefeated 1965 squad.
“That season (1965), we pretty much played five guys unless we got into foul trouble: Russ Grieger, Sam Watkins, Jerry Sloan, Herb Williams and myself. That was a great honor winning back-to-back championships, especially going undefeated,” he explained. “We played some great teams in the preseason – Iowa, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Southern Illinois and Kentucky Wesleyan, then played our conference schedule.”
“In 1965, we played SIU with Walt Frazier three times. In the game at Roberts, we were down a point and Coach McCutchan called a time out. Russ (Grieger) threw the ball down the court and I caught it and shot it over my shoulder. It hit the front of the rim, then the back and just sat there for a second as time ran out. It eventually went in and we won, 81-80,” Humes detailed. “We beat them at their place before winning in overtime in the championship game. Those were some outstanding memories and accomplishment to do those things. We wanted to play the Division I champion, we felt like we could beat anyone in the country.”
Following the 1965 season, Humes earned Sporting News Honorable Mention All-America honors, which spanned over all divisions of college basketball. Additionally, he earned First-Team All-America honors (UPI and AP) for the College Division in 1965 and 1966, and he was an honorable mention pick by the AP in 1964. He also earned First-Team All-Indiana Collegiate Conference plaudits in 1965 and 1966; and Humes was an NABC All-District 3rd Team selection in 1965 and 2nd Team in 1966.
“We were a big family, we did not care who scored the points, we just wanted to win. Coach Mac ahead of his time – he got the most out of you and made sure you were in tip top shape. We were in such good shape that we could go out and play two games in one night if we had to. The drills and fundamentals he had you do were unbelievable. He was laying the foundation for your success later in life.”
One of Humes’ closest friends that he teamed up with at Evansville was the great Jerry Sloan. The pair were the only members of the team who were married at the time and each couple had a child. That parallel saw Humes, Sloan and their families spend a lot of time together.
“Jerry and I have been friends for 50 years, I just talked to him a month ago. Jerry was a leader for the Aces. He was a hard-nosed basketball player, a very dedicated player and person. He did not care who got the limelight. He did things to make the team better. He was a great defensive player, rebounder and a good offensive player,” Humes said when referencing Sloan. “He was the backbone of the 65 team along with the other four of us. Jerry just kept everything better and got better as he hit the pros. His game on offense and defense got better. He never forgot where he came from; he was a country boy. Even though he is an NBA Hall of Famer, you would never know it; he treats everyone the same.”
Humes went on to explain that the backbone of his life and career is his beloved wife and high school sweetheart Cecele. The couple has been married for 56 years. He also credits his parents for his success.
“My wife is my backbone, if it was not for her encouraging me, I would not have enjoyed the success I have,” Humes said. “I also need to credit my parents, they were always there for me and pushing me to be the best.”
Following his graduation, Humes went on to enjoy a long teaching and coaching career in Indianapolis both at the high school level and at the University of Indianapolis. He played at Madison High School, which is between Louisville and Cincinnati. In four years as a starter, his squad lost just four regular-season games and five overall. He led his team to the state finals as a senior, falling to Bosse in the 1962 state championship. Madison defeated Bosse in the regular season that year.
“My mentors really made a difference for me in high school and college. You need mentors that see something in you. Coach McCutchan was one of my mentors and my high school coach Bud Ritter was another,” Humes exclaimed. “He went to Bosse HS and played on 1944 and 45 state championship teams. Went to Purdue and he was my HS coach and that is the reason I went to Evansville. He thought it would be the right place for me. He said it was a small college, good education, great basketball and great fans and a good place for me.”
Humes recently enjoyed an accolade in Madison, Indiana. He grew up on Elm Street and a few years ago when celebrating his 50th High School Reunion, the street which is five blocks long, was named “Humes Way”.
Coach Ritter’s assistance saw Humes fit right in with the Purple Aces. He continues to be one of the most celebrated and important players in its history. He also added a few tidbits on traditions that live on today with UE.
“Coach McCutchan decided to wear white jerseys at home and orange on the road. The reason for the orange jerseys was because that was the color of the basketball and it was hard for the opponent to see the ball with our bright jerseys,” he explained. “I also need to set the record straight on the sleeve jerseys. The reason for that and our robes was to keep us warm. There was a draft on the floor at Roberts Stadium and those helped us to stay warm and be fresh during the games.”
Humes was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 1991, and he was Indiana’s Mr. Basketball in 1962 while going 97-5 in high school, earning Most Valuable Player honors of the ICC in all three seasons.
“I love Evansville, my heart goes out to them and I want the program to get back to where it deserves to be. To have a good basketball team, you need to have players. Our championship teams were able to get guys who had Division I talent and that really made a difference,” Humes referenced when talking about his teammates. “Dale Campbell was influential in getting Jerry Sloan to come to UE; Jerry started out at Illinois. Bud Ritter’s history in Evansville made a difference in me. Sam Watkins and Ed Smallwood both went to Louisville Central and their coach wanted them to attend Evansville.”
“Russ Grieger began his college career at Saint Louis, but came home to Evansville where he played for Bosse High School and Herb Williams’ father was a preacher in Illinois and he really liked Coach McCutchan and felt like he was safest at UE.”
Humes finished by explaining how special it is to earn this type of recognition and that he looks forward to both ceremonies.
The 2020 State Farm MVC Tournament marks a milestone for the league as it will celebrate 30-straight years in St. Louis. With 30-straight years at the same neutral site, Arch Madness is the second-longest neutral site tenured collegiate tourney in the nation (following only the Big East in New York City).
“The Missouri Valley Conference has always been recognized for the great success of its athletics programs, with a rich history that dates back more than a century,” said Commissioner Doug Elgin. “Our MVC Hall of Fame has provided us with an opportunity to honor the student-athletes, coaches, administrators and contributors who have played important roles in the Conference and in intercollegiate athletics.
“The individuals we will be honoring in the Class of 2020 have brought significant honor to themselves, their institutions and to the Conference. We are truly humbled to have this opportunity to salute them for their achievements.”
Courtesy: UE Athletics