KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It was billed as the "Game of the Century" and Elvin Hayes responded by playing the game of his life.
A 6-foot-9 front-liner with the trademark turnaround jumper, Hayes would go on to a Hall of Fame NBA career, but the signature performance in his basketball life came on a January night in 1968.
That's when Hayes and the University of Houston ended the 47-game winning streak of Lew Alcindor and UCLA before 52,000 at the Astrodome in the first nationally televised regular-season college basketball game.
|Elvin Hayes, Houston|
|Bob Hopkins, Grambling|
|Marques Johnson, UCLA|
|Xavier McDaniel, Wichita State|
|Tom McMillen, Maryland|
|Gene Keady, Purdue|
|Rollie Massimino, Villanova|
Hayes was the headliner at the 2013 National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony Sunday night. The other honorees included players Xavier McDaniel of Wichita State, Marques Johnson of UCLA, Tom McMillen of Maryland and Bob Hopkins of Grambling; coaches Gene Keady and Rollie Massimino; contributors George Raveling and George Killian and the Loyola-Chicago team that won a national championship in 1963. The Ramblers were the first NCAA champion with at least four black players in the starting lineup.
Hayes had 39 points and 15 rebounds in a 71-69 Houston victory that mesmerized the nation, cementing his place in college basketball history and helping propel the sport to a new level of popularity.
"It made basketball a marketable sport," Hayes said. "We have three NBA teams in Texas that have all won championships and I think it was due to that game. When we first came to Texas, football was it. That game showed basketball could thrive with big arenas and a national television audience."
Although it has been more than four decades since that game, the man known as "Big E" is still asked almost daily about the event.
"There were 52,000 at the game, but now you'd think there were 200,000 people there that night," Hayes said. "Everywhere I go, I run into people who remember so much about it."
Johnson was one of the great players to come out of John Wooden's UCLA program, helping the Bruins' head coach win the last of his 10 NCAA titles in 1975. Two years later, Johnson was the first recipient of the John R. Wooden Award as the best player in college basketball when he averaged 21.1 points and 11.1 rebounds.
"I had an ability to play sound, fundamental basketball and that served me well playing for John Wooden at UCLA," Johnson said.
McMillen helped turn head coach Lefty Driesell's Maryland program into a national power before an 11-year NBA career and a three-term stint in the Congress. McMillen averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds as Maryland went 73-17 and won the 1972 NIT championship during his career.
"I think coach Driesell is the greatest college coach of all time," McMillen said.
McDaniel, who was called "X-Man", burst into prominence at Wichita State by becoming the first player to lead the nation in scoring (27.2) and rebounding (14.8) in the same season. He went on to a solid 12-year NBA career, making the all-rookie team in 1986 and playing in the 1988 All-Star Game.
Hopkins averaged 30 points and 17 rebounds for Grambling from 1953-56. Legendary football coach Eddie Robinson also coached the basketball team in those days. Hopkins is a cousin of former Celtics great Bill Russell and Russell, who played at the University of San Francisco, tried to get Hopkins to head for the West Coast. But Robinson's recruiting pitch to Hopkins' mother sold him on Grambling.
"Coach Robinson was telling her I not only would play ball, but go to church, go to school and graduate," Hopkins said. "That impressed her."
Massimino is best known for leading Villanova to a stunning upset of Patrick Ewing and Georgetown in the 1985 NCAA championship game.
"I still haven't watched the film because I still think we are going to lose," Massimino joked.
Keady won 512 games during 25 years at Purdue, including six Big Ten titles. He was Big Ten coach of the year seven times and national coach of the year six times.
Raveling and Killian were honored for their contributions to college basketball. Raveling travels extensively to promote the sport as Nike's director of international basketball. From 1990-98, Killian was president of FIBA, the sport's international governing body of basketball.