National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame to induct first Razorbacks player

By: Bob Holt
Published: Thursday, March 29, 2018
Arkansas' Sidney Moncrief gets ready to welcome one of his teammates during introductions Saturday, Feb. 11, 1978, in Fort Worth, Texas, before the Razorbacks pulled off another victory, beating TCU 77-57. (AP Photo)
Arkansas' Sidney Moncrief gets ready to welcome one of his teammates during introductions Saturday, Feb. 11, 1978, in Fort Worth, Texas, before the Razorbacks pulled off another victory, beating TCU 77-57. (AP Photo)

FAYETTEVILLE -- Sidney Moncrief is set to become the first Arkansas Razorbacks player inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

Moncrief, a 6-4 guard from Little Rock Hall who starred on the Razorbacks' 1978 Final Four team and was a consensus All-American as a senior in 1979, was announced Wednesday as part of the 2018 induction class.

Former University of Arkansas, Fayetteville coaches Eddie Sutton and Nolan Richardson previously were inducted into the same hall of fame.

"I hope we have lots of players in the future that get in, but it's fitting that Sidney is our first player, because I think he's been our best player," said Jim Counce, a heart surgeon who was Moncrief's Arkansas teammate. "Sidney as much as anybody -- if not more than anybody -- transformed the basketball program. He was just as good as it gets.

"In addition to us having to count on a lot of offensive productivity from Sidney, he never got to rest on the other end of the floor, because he was one of our best defenders. He always had to cover one of the best scorers on the other team."

The Razorbacks were a combined 83-11 in Moncrief's last three seasons and reached the NCAA Tournament, including a 32-4 record when Arkansas went to the 1978 Final Four in St. Louis with Moncrief, Ron Brewer and Marvin Delph -- 6-4 guards who became know as "The Triplets" -- leading the way.

After Brewer and Delph left the team as seniors in 1978, Arkansas reached the Elite Eight in 1979 with Moncrief averaging 22.0 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists before the Razorbacks lost to Indiana State and Larry Bird 73-71 in the Midwest Regional final.

"I was ecstatic when I found out I was going into the College Basketball Hall of Fame," said Moncrief, who lives in the Dallas area. "It was always in the back of my mind, because I know how much we accomplished at the University of Arkansas as a team.

"I feel what our teams were about certainly deserves recognition. I think it brings back what we did years ago."

Moncrief finished his career with 2,066 points, which at the time made him Arkansas' all-time leading scorer. Todd Day took over the No. 1 spot in 1992 and finished with 2,395 points, but Moncrief is No. 2 on the scoring list and remains the Razorbacks' career leader in rebounds with 1,015.

Moncrief, 60, played at Arkansas for Sutton, and with Pat Foster and Gene Keady as assistant coaches.

"Sidney was the most tenacious athlete I've ever been around," Foster said. "He was a fierce competitor."

Moncrief's 8.3 career rebounding average is tied for second best at Arkansas with 7-foot Joe Kleine, who had 806 rebounds from 1983-1985.

"It was just toughness," Moncrief said of his rebounding approach. "Flat-out toughness -- and just wanting the basketball."

Moncrief was the No. 5 overall pick in the NBA Draft -- the highest spot ever for an Arkansas player -- by the Milwaukee Bucks in 1979. He played 10 seasons for the Bucks and was a five-time all-star and twice named NBA Defensive Player of the Year. He played his final NBA season with Atlanta in 1990-1991.

"You take someone with the natural ability Sidney had and then add a work ethic and a competitive spirit that was second to none, and make him a great teammate on top of all that," Counce said. "Then you've got something that's hard to duplicate."

Moncrief said he considers the recognition to be a reflection of his teammates and coaches at Arkansas as well as the fans.

"I don't say it trying to be modest," he said. "But what we created at Arkansas during that time frame was a combination of great coaching, outstanding fans and phenomenal players."

Moncrief's induction class includes Arizona's Sean Elliott, Houston's Otis Birdsong, North Carolina's Sam Perkins, Morgan State's Marvin Webster and USC's Paul Westphal, along with former coaches John Kresse (College of Charleston) and Danny Miles (Oregon Tech).

The induction ceremony is set for Nov. 18 in Kansas City, Mo.

Moncrief has had his jersey retired at Arkansas and with the Bucks. He also was honored at a banner ceremony at Arkansas and has been inducted into the UA Sports Hall of Honor, Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, Wisconsin Sports Hall of Fame and Southwest Conference Hall of Fame.

"My time at the university was just a very, very strong lesson in teamwork, perseverance, sacrifice and growth," Moncrief said. "It set the foundation for a lot of things I did later in life on the basketball court in the NBA and outside of basketball as well.

"When they say your college experience can be life-changing, it certainly applies to my years at the university."

Sports on 03/29/2018

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