Chick-fil-A Sponsors Program To Recognize Former Hoops Standouts

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By Adam Bagni

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Featuring former greats from all 12 Southeastern Conference member institutions, the 2009 class of the Chick-fil-A SEC Basketball Legends will be honored at the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament March 12-15 at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Fla.

"The Chick-Fil-A SEC Basketball Legends Program allows us to honor our past and show everyone why the SEC is one of the nation's premier basketball conferences," said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive.

The 2009 class includes Melvin Cheatum, Alabama; Scotty Thurman, Arkansas; Doc Robinson, Auburn; Eugene McDowell, Florida; Shandon Anderson, Georgia; Louie Dampier, Kentucky; Ethan Martin, LSU; Keith Carter, Ole Miss; Tony Watts, Mississippi State; Grady Wallace, South Carolina; Paul “Lefty” Walther, Tennessee and Phil Cox, Vanderbilt.
Each Chick-fil-A SEC Basketball Legend will be recognized at halftime of his institution's first game at the tournament.

Highlighting the schedule of events at the Dr Pepper SEC FanFare will be appearances by the legends on the Chick-fil-A Press Box Stage. Complimentary posters of the legends will be available in the autograph area near the press box stage. FanFare will be open Thursday-Saturday, March 12-15 on the West side of the Forum in the Plaza Lot.

This marks the 11th year of the SEC Basketball Legends program.

Last year's group included Leon Marlaire, Alabama; Corliss Williamson, Arkansas; Wesley Person, Auburn; Dan Cross, Florida; Hugh Durham, Georgia; Kyle Macy, Kentucky; Frank Brian, LSU; Joe Harvell, Ole Miss; Wiley Peck, Mississippi State; Ronnie Collins, South Carolina; Bernard King, Tennessee and Barry Goheen, Vanderbilt.

2009 Chick-fil-A SEC Basketball Legends

ALABAMA – Melvin Cheatum, Forward, 1987-91

Melvin Cheatum earned first-team All-SEC honors from the league’s coaches and UPI in 1991 when he averaged 16.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. He helped lead the Crimson Tide to three NCAA Tournaments, two NCAA Sweet 16 appearances and three SEC Tournament titles. A member of the 1988 SEC All-Freshman Team, he was also a member of the SEC All-Tournament squads in 1990 and 1991. The Winnsboro, La., native finished his career ranking 12th on Alabama’s career scoring list with 1,575 points (12.4 ppg) and 14th with 785 rebounds (6.2 rpg). A starter in 114 of his 127 career games, he led the Crimson Tide in scoring (15.7 ppg), rebounding (6.7 rpg) and field goal percentage (.518) during the 1989-90 season.

ARKANSAS – Scotty Thurman, Guard/Forward, 1993-95

A freshman All-America in 1993 and Basketball Times All-America in 1995, Scotty Thurman was a three-time first-team All-SEC selection after helping his teams go 22-9, 31-3 and 32-7 with an SEC championship, a trip to the Sweet 16 and two appearances in the championship game of the Final Four. He finished his career ranking 10th on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,650 points, averaging 16.2 points for his career. The Ruston, La., native was a career 43 percent shooter from three-pointer range, including an SEC-leading 42.7 percentage in 1995. He led the team in scoring as a freshman with 17.4 points a game and in three-point shooting all three seasons. Thurman is best remembered for hitting the game-winning three-pointer in the 1994 national championship game victory over Duke.

AUBURN – Doc Robinson, Guard, 1996-2000

One of only two first-team All-Americans in Auburn history, Doc Robinson also earned honorable mention All-America honors in 1999 from the Associated Press. A two-time first team All-SEC selection, he ranks 15th on Auburn’s career scoring list with 1,332 career points, he also ranks as one of the best setup men in school history as his 568 career assists ranked third in school history. A member of the winningest senior class in school history with 85 wins, he averaged 11.5 points and 5.0 assists per game in 1999 as the Tigers went 29-4, won the SEC title and reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament after receiving the school’s only No. 1 seed. As a senior, the Selma, Ala., native led the Tigers to another NCAA Tournament appearance, this time advancing to the second round. The two-time SEC Player of the Week honoree was named the Tigers’ most valuable player three consecutive seasons.

FLORIDA – Eugene McDowell, Center, 1982-85

Unquestionably one of the greatest centers in the history of Florida basketball, Cross City, Fla., native Eugene McDowell is one of the most prolific scorer’s in school history. By the time his career at Florida had ended, McDowell became the 18th Florida Gator to pass the 1,000-point plateau. Today, he ranks ninth in school history in points (1,565), second in rebounds (1,063), sixth in blocked shots (150), first in double-doubles (43) and first in minutes played (4,100). A three-time AP All-SEC choice that started every game while in uniform for UF, McDowell owns the O’Connell Center record for both scoring (40) and rebounding (21) in a single game. In fact, no Florida player has scored 40 or more points in a game since the center tallied 40 vs. Biscayne on Dec. 21, 1982. After his illustrious career at UF, McDowell was a third-round NBA draft selection by Milwaukee in 1985 and enjoyed a successful career overseas for several years thereafter.

GEORGIA – Shandon Anderson, Forward, 1992-96

Shandon Anderson won All-SEC honors in 1995 and 1996 as a slashing, lightning-fast small forward for the Georgia Bulldogs. In his final season, he was the lynchpin of the second Bulldog team ever to reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. Today he remains the only player in school history to have amassed 1,500 points, 500 rebounds and 300 assists in a career. Anderson later played 12 seasons in the NBA, helping the Miami Heat win the world championship in 2006 and twice reaching the NBA Finals as a member of the Utah Jazz. After his NBA career, Anderson returned to Athens and completed his undergraduate degree in Sociology in May of 2007.

KENTUCKY – Louie Dampier, Guard, 1965-67

A two-time All-America in 1966 (first team Associated Press) and 1967 (second team Associated Press), Louie Dampier currently ranks 12th on Kentucky’s all-time scoring list with 1,575 points. A member of Rupp’s Runts, Dampier helped lead the 1966 Kentucky squad to the SEC Championship as well as a national runner-up finish, losing in the historical championship game to Texas Western (now UTEP). The following season, the 6-foot guard led the team in scoring (20.6 ppg) en route to the school’s second straight SEC Championship. Dampier was drafted in the fourth round (38th overall) of the 1967 NBA Draft by the Cincinnati Royals.

LSU – Ethan Martin, Guard, 1978-81

A senior point guard for LSU in 1981, Ethan Martin helped lead the Tigers on a 26-game winning streak that included winning their first 17 SEC games and garnering a national ranking that reached as high as No. 2. A consensus first team All-SEC selection and a third team All-America pick by Basketball Times in 1981, Martin averaged 11.5 points while making LSU fans go “Silly in Philly” as they advanced to the Final Four. Martin’s 190 assists that season rank as the fourth-highest total in school history. An All-SEC selection by the league’s coaches and second team all-conference pick by the media as a junior in 1980, his 11.9 points per game were highlighted by a 29-point effort against Kentucky. He ranks second in school history with 638 career assists.



OLE MISS – Keith Carter, Guard, 1995-96; 1998-99

After four years wearing the Red and Blue, Keith Carter left Ole Miss with more than just fond memories. The 1999 Associated Press All-America honorable mention team member also left his name firmly placed in the Ole Miss record books. Carter finished his career strong in 1998-99, scoring 542 points and hitting 77 three-point field goals, still the fifth-highest season total in Rebel history. His 1,682 career points ranks sixth all-time, and his 249 three-pointers set a school record at the time and still ranks second in the Rebel records. His success on the court also garnered him All-SEC first team honors and a nomination for the Naismith Player of the Year award in 1999. Carter played professional basketball in Italy for six years until moving back to Oxford, Miss., last summer. This season he joined the Ole Miss Radio Network as a basketball analyst and sideline reporter.

MISSISSIPPI STATE – Tony Watts, Guard, 1989-92

A member of the 1988-89 Freshman All-SEC squad and later a second-team All-SEC selection, Tony Watts scored 1,491 points during his career-- the ninth-most in school history. A four-year letterman for the Bulldogs, he averaged 19.2 points his senior campaign and is currently third in the MSU record books with 166 made three-pointers. As a senior, he also led the SEC in free throw percentage (84.4 percent). The crowning moment of his career, however, came in 1990-91 when he led the Bulldogs to a share of the overall SEC title.

SOUTH CAROLINA – Grady Wallace, Forward, 1955-57

The owner of the No. 42 jersey that hangs from the rafters of Colonial Life Arena, Grady Wallace was the first South Carolina player to have his jersey number retired. A consensus second team All-America selection in 1957, Wallace averaged an amazing 28.0 points per game in his career and led the NCAA with 31.3 points per tilt, edging out Kansas’ Wilt Chamberlain. Wallace holds down four of the top six scoring games in school history, scoring 54 points versus Georgia during his senior year.

TENNESSEE – Paul “Lefty” Walther, Forward, 1945, 1947-49

Paul Walther was a 1945 first-team All-America who also earned second-team All-America honors in 1949 by The Sporting News. A showman on the court, he was a three-time first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection (1945, 1948 and 1949). He helped lead the Vols to the 1945 SEC championship with an 18-5 overall record and an 8-2 mark in league play. He captained the 1949 team that went 19-7 and finished third in the SEC. He was named to the 1945 All-Madison Square Garden team after displaying skills against Rhode Island in the NIT. Nicknamed “Lefty”, he led the Vols in scoring as a junior and senior with 334 and 462 points, respectively. The Covington, Ky., native went on to play six seasons in the NBA.

VANDERBILT – Phil Cox, Guard, 1982-85

Playing in an era before the three-point shot, Phil Cox was a four-year star who set the school scoring record and still ranks third among all-time Commodore scorers with 1,724 points. The sharp-shooting guard was twice a first-team All-Southeastern Conference performer and three-times made the Academic All-SEC team. He once made 47 free throws in a row to set an SEC record.

-SEC