Retired Fort Worth Dunbar coach Robert Hughes, the all-time winningest boys high school coach, has been elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
The announcement was made Saturday at the site of the Men’s NCAA Final Four in Glendale, Ariz. Hughes attended the announcement, which was broadcast live on ESPN2.
“Surprised. Surprised because I had been bypassed a couple of times,” Hughes said during an interview session at the announcement. “If they do it (elect him), good. If not, I’ll go back to Stop Six (neighborhood) and read the paper.”
Hughes, 88, was in his third year as a finalist. His teams won 1,333 games and five state championships in 47 seasons at Fort Worth Dunbar and Fort Worth I.M. Terrell.
Hughes’ coaching career began at Fort Worth I.M. Terrell during the era of racial segregation. At Terrell, he won three Prairie View Interscholastic League championships. He then moved to Dunbar, where he won two UIL titles and built the Wildcats into one of the most consistent programs in the country.
“The thing that we pushed for more than anything else, including the fifth- and sixth-graders that would sneak in there, is you never, ever let anyone outwork you,” Hughes said. “It was there and it stayed there. If you can’t work hard and put out the best, you probably need to go home to your mama.”
Discipline was also a major part of Hughes’ philosophy, particularly when he went through the segregation era “where I admit there were some instances that were wrong.”
“They would have to have discipline. They would have to follow the rules,” Hughes said. “You just play the game. You don’t do anything cute. You don’t want to be all-world. You just want to be the best basketball player we have. As long as we had that, we were in great shape.”
Saturday’s honor represents the pinnacle award in basketball. Hughes has also served as head coach of the McDonald’s All-America Game’s West team in 2001, was named the NHSCA National High School Coach of the Year in 2003 and won the the Morgan Wootten Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. He has been inducted into the Texas Basketball Hall of Fame (1993) and High School Basketball Hall of Fame (2003).
Joining Hughes in the Class of 2017 were Bill Self, Tracy McGrady, Rebecca Lobo, Jerry Krause, Muffet McGraw, George McGinnis, Tom Jernstedt, Nikos Galis, Zack Clayton and Mannie Jackson.
Enshrinement festivities will take place in Springfield, Mass., September 7-9. The enshrinement is Sept. 8. Each honoree will receive an orange jacket and ring.