Credit: University of Wyoming

’12 Hoops Hall of Fame class features guy who invented the jumper

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The College Basketball Hall of Fame announced its 10-member class of 2012 on Tuesday, complete with names familiar to any fan.

Such as Patrick Ewing of Georgetown, North Carolina’s Phil Ford, former Kentucky coach Joe B. Hall, Earl Monroe from Winston-Salem State and Willis Reed of Grambling. Older fans will know Ex-Virginia Union coach Dave Robbins and Kansas star Clyde Lovellette. Businessman Jim Host and Joe Dean are in as contributors.

But the guy I’m most psyched to see inducted? Former Wyoming star Kenny Sailors, the man who invented the jump shot. (Photo credit: University of Wyoming.)

What? Invented the jumper? You read that correctly.

Sailors led Wyoming to the 1943 NCAA title and was a first-team All-American that season (and is rightfully revered in the state as a legend). But it was a LIFE magazine story that helped cement the impression of his lasting contribution to the game. From “The Origins of the Jump Shot:”

Discharged from the Marines in late 1945, Kenny . . . within days . . . found himself in Madison Square Garden again. One shot by Kenny Sailors . . . remains historic . . . . He had stolen a pass and then raced down the left side of the floor . . . . At the top of the key, he cut to his right and then stopped suddenly and jumped. Courtside spectators in folding chairs watched as he seemed to rise up into the scoreboard . . . . Now, at the peak of his jump and hanging-in-the-air in Madison Square Garden, he drew a bead on the basket . . . . Just before he dropped his left hand away to release the shot, a photographer’s flashbulb exploded silently. To the 18,056 fans who were watching, the flashbulb explosion seemed to freeze Kenny Sailors in the air, while beneath him men as floor-bound as statuary looked up in awe. Two weeks later Life Magazine ran a photo story of the game . . . . millions of young players saw that picture of Kenny’s jump shot in Life, and that . . . began a chain reaction in basketball . . . . Everywhere young players on basketball courts began jumping to shoot.

Overstated? Possibly. Sailors wouldn’t be the first person to be wrongly credited with something someone else did first. But he got the press and, for the most part, the attention as the first guy who decided staying on the ground when one shot the ball was a dumb idea.

I’d say that’s worth a spot in the hall of fame.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Illinois’ injury woes continue as starting center needs knee surgery

George Niang,Abdel Nader,Mike Thorne, Jr.
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.

Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.

Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.

The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.

John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.