Pitts inducted into Shaw Hall

Pitts inducted into Shaw Hall
October 23
00:00 2014
(pictured above:  Coach Isaac Pitts on the sidelines.)

Coach Isaac Pitts of Quality Education Academy always believed he had a modest chance to be enshrined in the Athletic Hall of Fame at Shaw University, his alma mater. That’s because four of his college basketball teammates from the 1980s had been selected in previous years.

When Pitts learned that 2014 would be his year to join the select group, he admits that he felt overwhelmed. Pitts, along with five others, will be enshrined at Shaw’s Hall of Fame Banquet tonight (Oct. 23) in Raleigh.

“I was blown away when I got the news,” he said. “I’m thankful, grateful and honored to be recognized. In the back of my mind, I always felt it (induction) was a possibility. But it’s not something you think about all that much until it actually happens.”

Pitts arrived at Shaw in the early ’80s at a time when the basketball program went into rebuilding mode. During that era (1982-85), Pitts averaged 15 points and 13 rebounds for his career. As a freshman, he was voted team MVP and turned in memorable performances against Bowie State (25 points, 22 rebounds) and Virginia State (27 points, 16 rebounds in the ’83 CIAA Tournament).

“Isaac did it all and he was very consistent,” said Alfonza Carter, who served as an assistant coach at Shaw when Pitts played. “He had an assortment of moves and could face-up or play with his back to the basket. For me, it was very satisfying to watch him mature as a player and as an individual. He was always very coachable. But my greatest thrill was to see him walk across that stage and graduate.”

As a 6’5” small forward on Shaw’s undersized squad, Pitts frequently played center against taller opponents, which included black college legends Charles Oakley of Virginia Union (Bulls, Knicks), Joe Binion of N.C. A&T (drafted by the Spurs) and Donald Carroll of St. Augustine’s (drafted by the Bullets).

“One of the highlights for me in college was coming back home to play against Winston-Salem State in the Gaines Center,” said Pitts, who graduated from Parkland. “Playing in the CIAA Tournament also brings back a lot of great memories. Back then, only the top four teams in each division went to the tournament, so there was more pressure to make the cut. The atmosphere for those games was big-time.”

Tonight’s ceremony has added significance for Pitts because Carter, the school’s Vice-President of Administrative Services, will also be enshrined. “Going into the Hall of Fame at the same time with one of my coaches,” Pitts explained, “makes this year’s induction even more special.”

The lessons that Pitts learned as a player haven’t been filed away and forgotten. Much of his coaching philosophy is rooted in what he gleaned from coach Warren “Big Time” Reynolds and Carter. During his six seasons at QEA, Pitts has a 152-21 record, which equates to a .878 winning percentage.

“I’m so thankful for everything I learned from my coaches,” said Pitts, who graduated from Shaw with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology. “Those truths still apply today and I use that a lot in working with my players. I learned how important it is to be accountable to yourself and to your teammates. It’s just as important to be appreciative for the opportunity to play as a college athlete. There are going to be times when you lose, but it’s how you respond to losses and how you bounce back that really helps you to grow.” 

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Craig Greenlee

Craig Greenlee

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