Jen Gillom Inducted into Womens Basketball Hall of Fame
The Women's Basketball Hall of Fame tonight inducted Minnesota Lynx head coach Jennifer Gillom into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, joining five others that made up the Hall of Fame's 11th class. The elite group of women athletes was inducted this evening at a special ceremony at the historic Bijou Theatre in Knoxville, Tenn. Gillom was inducted into the Hall of Fame on her 45th birthday, joining fellow former WNBA legends Cynthia Cooper-Dyke and Jennifer Azzi, former Louisiana Tech head coach Sonja Hogg, former Illinois State head coach Jill Hutchison and legendary tennis and basketball player Ora Washington.
"I am incredibly humbled to have joined the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame and to now have my name listed among not only this great class of inductees, but also the truly great men and women in the game of women's basketball," Gillom said. "I played a long time overseas, and I enjoyed a wonderful college career at Mississippi, but one of my greatest accomplishments in my career was being a pioneer of the WNBA. People said the league wouldn't make it, but we were determined to make this league a success. It is great to know that I was one of the important pieces of the WNBA puzzle. I won an Olympic gold medal in 1988, but this honor is truly the pinnacle of women's basketball and to have it happen on my 45th birthday was truly special. This honor caps of an incredible three weeks for me. Thank you to everyone who has made all of this possible."
Gillom, who was one of the first players signed by the WNBA, played seven seasons in the league, including six with the Phoenix Mercury. She led the Mercury to three playoff berths (1997, 1998, 2000), where they advanced to the 1998 WNBA Finals, losing to the Houston Comets. After playing her final season with the Los Angeles Sparks, Gillom retired from the WNBA in 2003 with career averages of 13.4 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Her best season in the WNBA came with the Mercury in 1998, where she closed out the season with career-high averages of 20.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.
The WNBA's 2002 Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award recipient, Gillom was selected to the 1999 All-Star team and was also named to the 1997 All-WNBA first team and 1998 All-WNBA second team. She was named the 1985 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year. She collected a total of six gold medals in international competition, including the gold at the 1988 Olympics, and one silver medal as a member of USA Basketball.
Gillom played for former Houston Comets coach Van Chancellor at Ole Miss, where she was the 1986 Southeastern Conference (SEC) Female Athlete of the Year. A 1986 Kodak All-American, Gillom earned 1986 NCAA Midwest Regional MVP and 1985 NCAA All-Mideast Regional honors and was a four-time All-SEC first team selection. She led the Lady Rebels in scoring her final three seasons and finished, behind her sister Peggie, as Ole Miss' all-time second leading scorer (2,186 points). During her four-year career, Gillom helped her teams to a 103-23 record with four NCAA Tournament appearances, including two Sweet Sixteens (1983, 1984) and two trips to the Elite Eight (1985, 1986), and three SEC West titles.
Gillom was named one of Arizona's top athletes of the 20th century (No. 74). She and her sister Peggie have a sports complex named after them at the University of Mississippi. The Gillom Sports Center is home to women's athletics at Ole Miss.
Gillom also enjoyed a lengthy professional career overseas prior to joining the WNBA, playing for teams in Italy, Greece, Spain and Turkey. Spending most of her time in Italy, Gillom played in Ansona, Messina, Milan and Taranto and was selected to several Italian League All-Star teams.
With the addition of the Class of 2009, the list of individuals who have been recognized as Women's Basketball Hall of Fame inductees increased to 109.
The Women's Basketball Hall of Fame's Board of Directors serves as the selection committee in determining which individuals will be inducted each year. Voting is based on various factors, which may include moral character, integrity, sportsmanship, record of performance, ability, national or international recognition, and contributions to the game of women's basketball.
In order to be considered for selection for induction, an individual must meet the following prerequisites:
· Player: Must be retired from the highest level of play for at least five years.
· Coach: Must have coached the women's game at least 20 years.
· Referee: Must have officiated the women's game at least 10 years.
· Contributor: Must have significantly impacted the game of women's basketball.
The mission of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, which opened in June 1999, is to "honor the past, celebrate the present, and promote the future" of women's basketball.
The other inductees included:
Jennifer Azzi: Two-time Olympian, led the USA to the gold medal in 1996. One of the original players of the ABL, stared for the San Jose Lasers and appeared in the ABL all-star game in 1996, 1997 and 1998. An All-American guard at Stanford, Azzi is the program's all-time three-point shooter, won the 1990 Wade Trophy, Naismith Player of the Year and led the Cardinal to the 1990 National Championship. Played five seasons in the WNBA.
Cynthia Cooper-Dyke: Two-time Olympian, two-time National Champion at Southern California (1983, 1984) and four-time WNBA champion with the Houston Comets (1997-2000), Cooper is currently the head coach of Prairie View A&M University. Was the first WNBA player to reach 500, 1000, 2000 and 2500 points, and was recognized as the 1998 Women's Professional Basketball ESPY award winner. Won a gold medal with team USA in the 1988 Olympics and was a member of seven USA squads.
Sonja Hogg: Coached and promoted the game of women's basketball for over 30 years. Started the Louisiana Tech women's basketball program and nicknamed the team the "Lady Techsters." In her 11 seasons as head coach of the Lady Techsters, Hogg compiled a record of 307-55, including two national championships (last AIAW title and first NCAA title) and six Final Fours. Recipient of the 2004 Naismith Women's Outstanding Contribution to Basketball Award and inducted into the Louisiana Tech Athletic Hall of Fame. Also coached for five seasons at Baylor.
Jill Hutchison: Head coach of the Illinois State women's basketball team for 28 seasons, Hutchison earned 428 wins and guided ISU to three NCAA tournaments, six WNIT appearances and was a three-time conference coach of the year. Was the first president of the WBCA in 1982 and received the Carol Eckman Award from the WBCA in 1992. Chaired the WBCA's five-year planning committee.
Ora Washington: Legendary African American athlete from the Germantown section of northwest Philadelphia, played center for the Philadelphia Tribune for 18 years, only losing six games, all of which were to men's teams. Widely considered the greatest African American athlete of her generation and the finest black female basketball player of the pre-World War II era. Inducted into Temple University's Sports Hall of Fame in the mid-80s.
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