Big 12 News

Paul Pierce, Tom Penders to Enter College Basketball Hall of Fame

NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma State at Texas Tech

Former Kansas star Paul Pierce and former Texas head coach Tom Penders will be inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame as part of its 2021 induction class on Sunday.

Pierce, who was recently inducted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame for the entirety of his career, enters the College Basketball Hall of Fame for his x years with the Kansas Jayhawks.

Pierce’s career straddles the Jayhawks’ time in the Big 8 and the Big 12 (1995-98). Pierce was the Co-Big 8 Freshman of the Year with Colorado’s Chauncey Billups and was a second-team Freshman All-American.


Once Kansas transitioned to the Big 12, Pierce won two Big 12 Tournament MVP awards. In 1997-98, he was a John Wooden Award finalist, an AP First-Team All-American and an All-Big 12 First Team selection. He left Kansas after three seasons and scored 1,786 points, which at the time was fifth-most in program history. His No. 35 is retired by Kansas, and he was the No. 10 overall pick of the Boston Celtics in 1998.

Penders coached the Longhorns from 1988-98 and led to them to incredible heights.  He turned the Longhorns into one of the fastest-playing teams in the nation, dubbed them the ‘Runnin’ ’Horns’ and turned the program into an immediate national contender. He led Texas to the Elite Eight in 1990, on the strength of great guard play by Travis Mays, Lance Blanks and Joey Wright.

That was the deepest the Longhorns got in the NCAA Tournament under Penders. But, he led Texas to eight NCAA Tournament trips, and along with it three Southwest Conference regular-season titles, two SWC tourney crowns and 208 games.

For his career, Penders won 649 career games at seven different schools, and took four different schools to the NCAA Tournament – Rhode Island, Texas, George Washington and Houston. Penders’ work at Rhode Island is what led Texas to hire him.

Penders is entering the Hall of Fame with Rick Byrd, who led Maryville, Lincoln Memorial and Belmont to a combined 805 victories as a head coach.

Former college players going into the Hall of Fame include Maryland’s Len Bias, UCLA’s David Greenwood, Bradley’s Hersey Hawkins, Ohio State’s Jim Jackson, North Carolina’s Antwan Jamison and Kansas’ Paul Pierce.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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