Small College Basketball taps 2 from WSSU for inaugural Hall of Fame class

Clarence "Big House" Gaines/Earl "The Pearl" Monroe

Small College Basketball taps 2 from WSSU for inaugural Hall of Fame class
July 07
05:00 2016


BALDWIN CITY, Kan. – Former Winston-Salem State University coach and a standout, Clarence “Big House” Gaines and Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, will be among the inaugural inductees into the Small College Basketball (SCB) Hall of Fame. The class includes five players and two coaches from HBCUs.

The 2016 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be held on Thursday, Nov. 17 at the Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana.

“It is an absolute thrill to announce the inaugural class for the Small College Basketball Hall of Fame,” said Hall of Fame and SCB Founder John McCarthy. “This class represents the best of the best in the history of small college basketball, and it is with great pleasure that we announce this class.”

Clarence “Big House” Gaines’ men’s basketball team won the 1967 National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) Division II Basketball Championship – the first historically black college to win a national championship. Subsequently, Gaines was named the NCAA Division II (1967) College Coach of the Year. In 1982 Gaines was recognized for his contribution to basket-ball by being inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame (named in honor of the inventor of basketball James Naismith).

Gaines had amassed a win/loss record of 828-446, making him the winningest active basketball coach in NCAA history, and the second winningest collegiate basketball coach behind the University of Kentucky’s late Adolph Rupp. However, following University of North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith’s 877th career win in March 1997, coach Gaines became the third winningest basketball coach in NCAA history behind only Adolph Rupp (2nd), and Dean Smith (1st).

Gaines was eventually surpassed by longtime friend Jim Phelan of Mt. St. Mary¹s University (formerly Mt. St. Mary¹s College; the name change took place on June 8th, 2004), placing him fourth all-time in wins in NCAA Basketball history before Bobby Knight passed both Phelan and Gaines in 2005, moving “Big House” to fifth-place all-time.

Earl Monroe decided to attend Winston-Salem State, a small, historically black college in North Carolina. There he found a father figure in Coach Clarence “Big House” Gaines, a famed figure in black college sports and blossomed into a first-rate scorer. As a senior in 1966-67, Monroe led his Winston-Salem State University Rams squad to an NCAA Division II title while averaging 41.5 points. A local sportswriter, the Winston-Salem Journal’s Jerry McLeese penned the phrase “Earl’s Pearls” to describe the points he tallied, and a nick-name was born.

Monroe, the No. 2 choice in the 1967 NBA Draft, was chosen by the Baltimore Bullets, a franchise that had not enjoyed much success.

During his initial season the team showed little improvement, finishing in the Eastern Division cellar. Monroe, however, was a standout. He was named NBA Rookie of the Year after averaging 24.3 points to finish fourth in the league in scoring.

In one game against the Los Angeles Lakers, he tossed in 56 points.

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