Brian Oliver Among ACC Legends

Feb. 17, 2009

Greensboro, N.C. – Brian Oliver, the ACC Tournament Most Valuable Player and a member of Georgia Tech’s famed “Lethal Weapon 3” group that led the Yellow Jackets to the 1990 ACC Championship and NCAA Final Four, is among the 12 Atlantic Coast Conference Basketball Tournament Legends announced Tuesday by Commissioner John Swofford.

Five players who combined for six NCAA Final Four appearances, a coach who restarted Miami’s basketball program after a 14-year hiatus, eight players who combined for 43 years experience in the NBA or ABA and three players who captured the prestigious Everett Case Award as the MVP of the ACC Tournament, are represented.

The Legends will be honored at the 57th Annual Atlantic Coast Conference Basketball Tournament this March 12-15 in Atlanta, Ga. The Legends will be feted at the Annual ACC Legend’s Brunch, which will be held at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis Hotel on Saturday, March 14 beginning at 10 a.m. Tickets, priced at $35 each with tables of 10 available for $350, can be purchased from the Atlanta Sports Council by calling 404-586-8470 or by going to the ACC’s official website–TheACC.com. Raycom TV personalities Mike Hogewood and Tim Brant will once again serve as co-hosts of the event.

The Legends will also be presented to the ACC Tournament crowd at the Georgia Dome at halftime of the first semifinal game on March 14, which will have a 1:30 pm tipoff.

This year’s Legend’s class is led by a trio of players who earned the Everett Case Award as ACC Tournament MVPs in leading their teams to the Championship of the Atlantic Coast Conference in North Carolina’s Charlie Scott (1968-70), Duke’s Jim Spanarkel (1976-79) and Georgia Tech’s Brian Oliver (1987-90).

Scott, one of only 25 three-time, first-team All-ACC selections in league history and a three-time All-America, was named ACC Tournament MVP after leading the Tar Heels to the 1969 ACC title in Charlotte. Spanarkel, a two-time All-America and first-team All-ACC selection in 1978 and 1979, led the Duke Blue Devils to the ACC Championship in 1978 in Greensboro. Oliver, a two-time second-team All-ACC performer, led Georgia Tech to the 1990 ACC title in Charlotte, as part of the famed “Lethal Weapon Three” Yellow Jacket team.

Joining Scott, Spanarkel and Oliver at this year’s Tournament will be NC State’s Monte Towe (1973-75), the point guard and one of the leaders of the Wolfpack’s famed 1974 National Championship team; Florida State’s Ron King (1971-73), who led the Seminoles to the 1972 NCAA National Championship Game; former Miami head coach Bill Foster (1986-90), who re-started the Hurricanes’ basketball program after a 14-year absence and who also enjoyed successful coaching tenures at Clemson and Virginia Tech; and Wake Forest’s Frank Johnson (1977-81), a 1981 first-team All-ACC honoree and 2nd team All-America who led Wake to the 1981 NCAA Tournament.

Completing this year’s class will be Boston College’s Danya Abrams (1994-97), a three-time, first-team All-Big East selection who led BC to three NCAA Tournament appearances; Clemson’s Randy Mahaffey (1964-67), a first-team All-ACC selection in 1967 and one of four Mahaffey brothers who played for the Tigers during the decade of the 1960s; Maryland’s Al Bunge (1958-60), a first-team All-ACC selection in 1960 who helped lead the Terrapins to their first ACC Basketball Championship at the 1958 Tournament in Raleigh; Virginia’s Richard Morgan (1986-89), a first-team All-ACC selection in 1989 who helped lead the Cavaliers to three NCAA Tournament appearances; and Virginia Tech’s John Wetzel (1964-66), who led the Hokies to their first post-season Tournament in 1966 and has spent most of the ensuing time in the NBA as a player or coach.

Spanarkel (1978), King (1972), Oliver (1990), Scott (1968, 1969) and Towe (1974) all helped lead their teams to the NCAA’s Final Four. Scott (1969-70), Spanarkel (1978-79), King (1972) and Johnson (1981) all earned All-America honors. Eight of the Legends–Scott (10 years), Johnson (10 years), Wetzel (7), Spanarkel (5), Mahaffey (5), Oliver (3), Towe (2) and King (1)–played in either the National Basketball Association or the American Basketball Association. Three of the Legends–Al Bunge, Jim Spanarkel and Frank Johnson–were first round NBA Draft picks, while nine in all were drafted by the NBA.

Scott, the 1971 ABA Rookie of the Year for the Virginia Squires in 1971, was drafted in the 7th round of the NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics, but chose to sign instead with the Virginia Squires of the ABA. Scott would later return to the NBA where he would help the Celtics to the 1976 NBA title and played in what many describe as perhaps the greatest NBA Game ever played, a triple-overtime contest with the Phoenix Suns in Game 5 of the 1976 Finals.

The Legends in alphabetical order by school:

Abrams (Greenburgh, N.Y.), still ranks sixth on Boston College’s career scoring list with 2,053 career points (BC’s Tyrese Rice currently has 2,011). He also ranks second in career free throws made and third in rebounding (1029). Named the to the 1994 Big East All Rookie Team, he is one of two BC players to have earned first-team All-Big East honors three times (1995, 1996 and 1997). He helped lead the Eagles to three NCAA appearances and to the Sweet Sixteen round of the 1994 NCAA Tournament. In eight NCAA Tournament games he averaged 13.6 points and 8.8 rebounds. A three-time NABC All-District selection who led BC to a 73-50 record during his four years in Chestnut Hill, he currently resides in Avon, Mass.

Mahaffey (LaGrange, Ga.), one of only two Clemson players to earn first-team all ACC honors in the 1950’s and 60’s, he was one of four brothers who played basketball and started for the Tigers during the decade of the 60’s including Tom (1959-62), Donnie (1961-64) and Richie Mahaffey (1966-70). Randy Mahaffey led Clemson’s 1967 team which finished 17-8. He was named first-team All-ACC in 1967 and was a second-team selection in 1965. He still ranks sixth at Clemson in career scoring average and 11th in rebound average. Also a standout in the classroom, Mahaffey was a three-time selection to the ACC All-Academic Basketball team. After graduation he played four seasons in the ABA with the Kentucky Colonels (1968-69), the New York Nets (1970) and the Carolina Cougars (1971). He averaged 12 points and 8 rebounds for his professional career and played in the inaugural ABA all-star game in 1967-68. He currently resides in Jefferson, Ga.

Spanarkel, (Jersey City, N.J.) the leader of Duke’s 1978 Final Four team, helped the Blue Devils to a four-year record of 76-39 and final national rankings (AP) of 9th in 1978 and 7th in 1979. Spanarkel was named the ACC Rookie of the Year in 1976, second-team All-ACC in 1977 and first-team All-ACC and first-team All-America in 1978 and 1979. An excellent student, Spanarkel was also named Academic All-America in 1978 and 1979. He scored 2,012 points in his career and still ranks ninth on Duke’s career scoring list. In 1978, he led Duke to its first ACC Championship in 12 seasons and was named MVP of the ACC Tournament. He was also named to the NCAA’s All-Final Four team as Duke advanced to the national semifinals before losing to eventual national champion Kentucky. A first-round draft pick by the Philadelphia 76’ers, he enjoyed a five-year career in the NBA with Philadelphia (1980) and Dallas (1981-84). In addition to a lucrative career in investments, Spanarkel is an analyst on the Philadelphia 76ers telecasts as well as for CBS during the NCAA Basketball Tournament. He now resides in Paramus, N.J.

King (Louisville, Ky.) was one of the leaders of Florida State’s 1972 team which advanced to the NCAA Final Four before losing to UCLA and Bill Walton in the 1972 NCAA Championship Game. King was the leading scorer for the Seminoles, averaging 17.9 points a game that year and 19.6 for his career. An Honorable Mention All-America pick in 1971, he earned third-team All-America honors in 1972 by the Sporting News and was a first-team selection by the Helms Foundation. That year, he was named to the NCAA Tournament’s All-Midwest Regional Team. He is still tied for the 4th-highest career scoring average in Florida State history and holds the FSU single-game scoring mark of 46 points set against Georgia Southern in 1971. Chosen by the Golden State Warriors in the 4th round of the 1973 NBA Draft, he played instead for the Kentucky Colonels of the ABA in his hometown of Louisville, Ky. He still resides in Louisville.

Oliver (Atlanta, Ga.) was one of the three members of Georgia Tech’s famed “Lethal Weapon Three” which captured the 1990 ACC Championship and advanced to the 1990 NCAA Final Four before losing to eventual National Champion UNLV. During his four seasons at Tech, Oliver helped lead the Yellow Jackets to a four-year 86-42 record and four NCAA Tournament appearances. As a senior, he averaged 21.3 points a game, earned 2nd-team All-ACC honors and was named the MVP of the 1990 ACC Tournament in Charlotte, after averaging 23.3 points and five rebounds per game in Tech’s three Tournament wins. An Honorable Mention All-America by AP, UPI and The Sporting News in 1990, he still ranks 8th on Tech’s career scoring list with 1,848 points. Oliver is the only player in Tech history to have at least 1,800 points, 600 rebounds (612) and 500 (538) assists in his career. Oliver was drafted in the 2nd round by the Philadelphia 76’ers in the 1990 NBA Draft and played three years in the NBA with Philadelphia and Washington. After a long career playing basketball in Europe, he now resides in his hometown of Atlanta.

Bunge (Delanco, N.J.), was the starting center on the first Maryland team to win an ACC Championship in 1958. Coached by Bud Millikan, the Terps were the first non-North Carolina team to win the ACC Tournament and finished the year ranked 6th nationally. Bunge was named to the 1958 2nd-team All-Tournament team, and led the Terrapins in rebounding (9.1) and scoring average (10.1) as the Terps advanced to the NCAA East Region Semifinal game. As a senior, he earned first-team All-ACC honors, averaging 16.6 points a game. His 12.6 rebounding average that year as a senior is still the 3rd-best single-season effort by a Maryland player. His 10.6 career rebound average is the 5th-best career mark by a Terrapin. After college, Bunge was a first-round draft selection and the 7th overall pick by Philadelphia Warriors in the 1960 NBA Draft. He currently lives in Bartlesville, Okla.

Foster (Hemingway, S.C.), was selected to be the coach to re-start the University of Miami basketball program by UM AD Sam Jankovich after the school had dropped the sport for 14 years. Foster, who has led basketball programs at three current ACC schools, guided the Hurricanes for five seasons beginning in 1985-86 and posted a 78-71 record and a .523 winning percentage as he rebuilt the program from scratch. Foster, who also was the head coach at Clemson (1976-84) and Virginia Tech (1992-97), also began the Division 1 Basketball program at Charlotte (1971-75), as well as serving as head coach at Shorter College (1963-67). He currently ranks 53rd on the NCAA all-time wins list for coaches, having posted a 532-325 (.621) record in 30 seasons as a head coach. He also posted a 10-5 record in post-season play. Foster retired from coaching while at Virginia Tech in 1997 and now resides in Boone, N.C.

Scott (New York, N.Y.) was one of the best swingmen to play in the ACC and one of only 25 players who were named three-time, first-team All-ACC. Scott earned first-team All-America honors in 1969 and 1970, and 2nd-team All-America accolades in 1968. Playing both guard and forward, Scott led UNC to ACC titles in 1969 and 1970 and to NCAA Final Four appearances in 1968 and 1969. The first African-American scholarship athlete at UNC, he was named the winner of the McKevlin Award as the ACC Athlete of the Year in 1970. He also helped the United States’ Basketball team to the Gold Medal in the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. Still ranked 5th in career scoring at UNC with 2,007 career points, Scott was an Academic All-America in 1970. That year, his scoring average of 27.1 in 1970 is still the third-best single-season mark in UNC history. He was named the MVP of the 1969 ACC Tournament, leading the Tar Heels to the ACC title, averaging 24.7 points and 5.7 rebounds. In 1970 he was drafted in the 7th round by the Boston Celtics, but played originally with the Virginia Squires of the ABA and later played nine seasons in the NBA. He led the ABA in scoring in 1972 with a 34.6 average and later, playing for the Celtics, helped Boston to the 1976 NBA Championship. He currently resides in Norcross, Ga.

Towe (Marion, Ind.), the catalyst as the point guard of the NC State teams that went two years without losing a conference game in 1972 and 1974, helped the Wolfpack compile a remarkable 79-7 three-year record (1973-75) including a 57-1 mark in 1973 and 1974. One of the most popular NC State players because of his leadership and intensity on the floor, he helped State compile a 24-0 mark in the ACC in 1973 and 74, and capture back-to-back ACC Championships. Playing alongside the legendary David Thompson and Tommy Burleson, Towe, who earned first-team All-ACC honors, helped guide the Wolfpack to the 1974 National Championship, snapping UCLA’s seven-year national title string and avenging State’s only loss in the two-year span. He was named to the 1974 Final Four All-Tournament team and led the Wolfpack in assists in each of his three varsity seasons. Following his senior season, Towe was honored as the winner of the Frances Pomeroy Naismith award winner which goes annually to the top player in the nation who is less than six feet tall. After leaving NC State, Towe was drafted in the 4th round by the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA, but chose to play instead with the Denver Nuggets of the ABA for two seasons. He rejoined his college coach, Norm Sloan, as an assistant at State in 1977-80 and for nine seasons at Florida. After spending five years as head coach at New Orleans, he returned to the Wolfpack on the staff of current head coach Sidney Lowe, who he originally helped recruit to State in 1978. He currently resides in Raleigh, N.C.

Morgan (Salem, Va.) was a four-time letterman and a three-year starter at Virginia for Coach Terry Holland during the 1987, 1988 and 1989 seasons. In 1989 he was named a first-team All-ACC performer after a season in which he ranked 4th in the ACC with a 20.4 scoring average and led the conference in free throw percentage, making 86.4 percent of his charity tosses. During his four seasons with UVa, he helped the Cavaliers to a 75-50 overall record and three NCAA Tournament appearances. An excellent defensive player, he led the team in steals for three straight seasons. In 1989, he led Virginia to the NCAA Midwest Regional finals before losing to eventual NCAA finalist Michigan. His career total of 1,540 points still ranks 15th on Virginia’s all-time scoring list and his 673 points in 1989 is still the 4th-best single-season effort in UVa history. Currently an assistant basketball coach for Appalachian State, he now resides in Boone, N.C.

Wetzel (Waynesboro Va.) was a three-year starter for Virginia Tech under coach Howard Shannon and led the Hokies to their first post-season tournament, an appearance in the 1966 National Invitation Tournament (NIT). As a senior, Wetzel averaged 18.5 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. His career free throw percentage of .799 still ranks 8th on Virginia Tech’s career list and his free throw percentage mark of .866 in 1966, is still the 4th-best single-season effort in Hokies history. In his three collegiate seasons, he helped lead Tech to a 48-22 record. Wetzel was drafted in the 8th round of the 1966 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers, but a broken wrist delayed his professional debut until 1968. He spent seven seasons in the NBA with the Lakers, Phoenix Suns (1971-72, 1976) and the Atlanta Hawks (1973-75). After spending one year as Virginia Tech’s inaugural women’s basketball coach, Wetzel then embarked on a long coaching career in the NBA as an assistant coach at Phoenix (1980-87), Portland (1989-94), Golden State (1996-97) and Sacramento (1998-04). He also spent one year as head coach of the Phoenix Suns (1988). Wetzel, who retired after the 2004 season, now resides in Marana, Ariz.

Johnson (Weirsdale, Fla.) was a four-year starter for Coach Carl Tacy’s Demon Deacons during the 1977-81 seasons. He sat out the 1980 season with an injury, but returned in 1981 to earn first-team All-ACC and 2nd-team All-America honors. During his career, he helped lead Wake Forest to a 78-42 record and two NCAA Tournament appearances. He also earned 2nd-team All-ACC honors in 1978. His career total of 1,749 points is still good enough for 12th place on the Wake Forest career scoring list. He also ranks 3rd on Wake’s career lists for steals (260) and 6th for assists. Drafted in the first round by the Washington Bullets, Johnson went on to a 10-year career in the NBA playing for Washington, Houston and Phoenix, also playing in Italy for three seasons. He has served as an assistant coach in the NBA and spent almost two seasons as head coach of the Phoenix Suns (2002-03). He currently resides in Phoenix.

LEGENDS BRUNCH

The Legends will be honored at this year’s ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament in Atlanta at the annual ACC Basketball Legends Brunch, which will be held on Saturday, March 14 beginning at 10 a.m. Hosted by television personalities Tim Brant and Mike Hogewood, the ACC Men’s Basketball Legends Brunch will be held in the in the Atlanta Marriott Marquis Hotel. Tickets, priced at $35 each and tables of ten for $350 each, can be obtained by calling 1-404-586-8470 or by going to the ACC website–www.Theacc.com.

LEGENDS ROSTER
Name              School              Years    Position          Hometown (Current Hometown)

Danya Abrams Boston College 1994-97 Forward Greenburgh, N.Y. (Avon, Mass.)

Randy Mahaffey Clemson 1964-67 Center LaGrange, Ga. (Jefferson, Ga.)

Jim Spanarkel Duke 1976-79 Guard Jersey City, N.J. (Paramus, N.J.)

Ron King Florida State 1991-94 Forward Thomasville, Ga. (Houston, TX)

Brian Oliver Georgia Tech 1987-90 Guard Atlanta, Ga. (Atlanta)

Al Bunge Maryland 1958-60 Center Delanco, N.J. (Bartlesville, Okla.)

Bill Foster Miami 1986-90 Head Coach Hemingway, S.C.(Boone, NC)

Charlie Scott North Carolina 1968-70 Guard-Forward New York, N.Y. (Norcross, Ga.)

Monte Towe NC State 1973-75 Guard Marion, Ind. (Raleigh, N.C.)

Richard Morgan Virginia 1986-89 Guard (Boone, N.C.)

John Wetzel Virginia Tech 1966-68 Forward Waynesboro, Va. (Marana, Ariz.)

Frank Johnson Wake Forest 1977-81 Guard Weirsdale, Fla. (Phoenix, Ariz.)

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