Katie Smith, Tina Thompson Among 2018 Finalists For Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

LOS ANGELES, CA – The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced today, at NBA All-Star Weekend, eight phenomenal players, three standout coaches, one exceptional referee, and one record-setting team as finalists from the North American and Women’s committees to be considered for election in 2018.

This year’s list includes six first-time finalists: two-time NBA Champion Ray Allen, two-time NCAA Champion Grant Hill, 10-time NBA All-Star Jason Kidd, two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash, three-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Smith and four-time WNBA Champion Tina Thompson.

Previous finalists included again this year for consideration are four-time NBA All-Star Maurice Cheeks, the only coach in NCAA history to be named Conference Coach of the Year in four different conferences Charles “Lefty” Driesell, 28-year NBA referee Hugh Evans, two-time NCAA National Championship Coach of Baylor Kim Mulkey, two-time NBA Champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich, five-time NBA All-Star Chris Webber and 10-time AAU National Champions Wayland Baptist University.

“To be named a Finalist for the Basketball Hall of Fame is an incredible distinction and we are proud to honor those who have made a tremendous impact on the game over the years,” said Jerry Colangelo, Chairman of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “The Honors Committee now has the challenging task of selecting this year’s Enshrinees, which we look forward to announcing at the NCAA Final Four in San Antonio.”

Announced in December, two distinct modifications have been made to the election process. Most notably, potential honorees are eligible on the ballot for Hall of Fame enshrinement after three full seasons of retirement, starting with the Class of 2018. The second reform to Hall of Fame eligibility requires coaches to have coached for 25 years and reached the minimum age of 60. This will allow the Honors Committee to evaluate a larger body of work for those coaches nominated. This change will take effect in 2020, allowing a grace period for coaches who are nearing Hall of Fame eligibility based on previous standards.

The complete list of nine finalists from the North American Screening Committee includes: players Ray Allen, Maurice Cheeks, Grant Hill, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash and Chris Webber; coaches Charles “Lefty” Driesell and Rudy Tomjanovich; and referee Hugh Evans. The four finalists from the Women’s Screening Committee includes: players Katie Smith and Tina Thompson, coach Kim Mulkey, and Wayland Baptist University as a team.

The Class of 2018 will be announced on Saturday, March 31 at a press conference in San Antonio prior to the NCAA Men’s Final Four. Enshrinees from the Direct Elect Committees are also recognized at the NCAA Men’s Final Four and include Early African-American Pioneers, International, Contributors and Veterans. A finalist needs 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee for election into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The Class of 2018 will be enshrined during festivities in Springfield, Massachusetts, the birthplace of basketball, September 6-8, 2018. Tickets for the various Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2018 Enshrinement events are on sale at www.hoophall.com.

KATIE SMITH [Player] – Smith is a WNBA Finals MVP (2008) and two-time WNBA Champion with the Detroit Shock (2006, 2008). A native of Ohio, Smith played for the Ohio State University (1992-1996) where she was named Big Ten Player of the Year (1996). In 2001, she was the first female Buckeye athlete to have her number retired. With the ABL’s Columbus Quest, Smith was a two-time ABL All-Star (1997, 1998) and two-time ABL Champion (1997, 1998). In the Women’s National Basketball Association, Smith was selected as a WNBA All-Star seven times (2000-2003, 2005, 2006, 2009), and was named to the WNBA’s Top 20 at 20 in 2016. Smith is the all-time leading scorer in women’s professional basketball, having scored over 7,000 points in both her ABL and WNBA career. As a member of USA Basketball, Smith earned FIBA World Championship gold in 1998 and 2002, as well as Olympic gold in 2000, 2004 and 2008. Smith is currently the head coach of the New York Liberty.

TINA THOMPSON [Player] – Thompson is a four-time WNBA Champion with the Houston Comets (1997- 2000) and a nine-time WNBA All-Star (1999-2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2013). She was the first player selected in 1997 WNBA draft and earned All-WNBA First Team honors three times (1997, 1998, 2004). In commemoration of the league’s 20-year history in 2016, Thompson was named to the list of Top 20 players. A native of Los Angeles, she played for University of Southern California (1993-1997) and attended high school and college with Class of 2015 Hall of Famer Lisa Leslie. On the international stage, Thompson won a Russian National League Championship and EuroLeague Championship in 2007, as well as a Romanian National League Championship in 2010. As a member of USA Basketball, she earned Olympic gold medals in 2004 and 2008.