After nearly seven years in development and with more than 100 years of history from which to draw, Minnesota finally has a way to honor its best and most significant high school basketball players, coaches and teams.
The Minnesota High School Basketball Hall of Fame, an idea hatched in 2011 by a committee of longtime high school basketball coaches, reporters and afficionados, announced Monday its inaugural class of 14 honorees, led by such notable names at Kevin McHale, Lindsey Whalen and Khalid El-Amin.
The hall, with displays of each selected member, will be housed permanently at Target Center in a joint agreement with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx.
The inaugural class, including nine players and others for coaching, team and sport accomplishments, will be inducted at a ceremony on March 26 at the Court at Mayo Clinic Square. They will be feted at halftime of the Timberwolves game against the Memphis Grizzlies that evening.
The first set of honorees are: The 1960 Edgerton boys’ basketball team; Chisholm coach Bob McDonald; Jim McIntyre, Mpls. Henry, 1945; Ron Johnson, New Prague, 1956; Mark Olberding, Melrose, 1974; Kevin McHale, Hibbing, 1976; Randy Breuer, Lake City, 1979; Khalid El-Amin, Minneapolis North, 1997; the 1929-39 Grand Meadow girls’ team; girls’ sports advocate Dorothy McIntyre; Rochester Loudes coach Myron Glass; Faith Johnson Patterson, Marshall University, 1980; Janet Karvonen-Montgomery, New York Mills, 1980 and Lindsey Whalen, Hutchinson, 2000
The idea to create a hall of fame to honor Minnesota’s long and rich high school basketball heritage came out of the Minnesota State High School League’s preparation in 2012 for its 100th anniversary of the boys’ basketball state tournament.
“Some of us helped pick the top five players and top five coaches for [the anniversary recognition],” said Marc Hugunin, one of 11 members of the committee behind the effort. “Someone on the committee said ‘Hey, how about a Hall of Fame?’ The [MSHSL] wasn’t interested, but we thought we could do this privately.”
With the high school league’s hall of fame primarily aimed at coaches and administrators, committee members felt the time was right to establish a hall of fame to recognize a broader range of high school basketball contributors. A little research into similar halls of fame around the country provided a surprising result. “I don’t think there are more than four or five other states that have them,” Hugunin said. “There aren’t a whole lot of them.”
The committee’s board of directors set eligibility guidelines of 10 years after graduation for players and 15 years after the beginning of their coaching career for coaches. The committee then set about the task of determining the first set of honorees.
“We wanted to focus primarily on players, although there are a few teams and coaches,” Hugunin said. “And we wanted a balance of boys and girls and to make sure old-timers were represented, not just players from the last 20 years.”
He added that contributions to basketball after high school were also considered.
A list of 200 potential hall-of-famers was developed and whittling down began.
“There were some long meetings,” Hugunin recalled. “Some made impassioned speeches and there was a lot of arm-wrestling. We could have easily had 20 or 25, but we tried to get down to a dozen. We ended up with 14.”
Think someone was overlooked? Not to worry. A new class is expected to be inducted every year, Hugunin said.
“We’ll try to keep it to a dozen or so each year,” Hugunin said.
After the honorees were determined, the next step was finding a location and a sponsor. Williams Arena was ruled out due to possible conflicts with NCAA rules. The Timberwolves were receptive and agreed to let the Hall of Fame to be housed at Target Center – once its remodeling was completed.
“That’s been one of the biggest challenges,” Hugunin acknowleged. “We’ve been waiting on the remodeling for about five years.”
The site has been secured, but there are still hurdles to be cleared. The board of directors is still trying to secure a financial sponsor to cover costs incurred and anticipated. And as of now, the physical display is just a window in the Target Center skyway.
“It’s taken some time and patience, but we’re excited about it,” Hugunin said.