Enshrinement into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame will have to wait at least another year for a pair of former area high school coaches.
Leta Andrews and Robert Hughes — the winningest girls and boys high school coaches of all time — did not receive the required 18 of 24 votes by the election committee.
That didn’t stop either coach from appreciating that they had made the list of 17 finalists. Eleven of those 17 made the September enshrinement ceremony, as announced before Monday’s NCAA championship game in Indianapolis. Both coaches learned of the committee’s decision a few days before the official announcement.
Andrews, who retired from Granbury in 2014, earned 1,416 victories over 51 seasons to become the all-time winningest girls coach. She led her teams to 16 state final four appearances, including winning the 1990 state championship with Corpus Christi Calallen.
“It is definitely a very select group and I felt very honored to be a finalist,” Andrews said Monday by phone. “I’m a member of [other] halls of fame, but that’s the cream of the crop.”
Andrews, 76, who also coached at Tolar, Gustine and Comanche, coached a McDonald’s All-America team, a Gatorade All-America game, was named the NHSCA National High School Coach of the Year in 2007 and won the Morgan Wootten Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. Andrews was inducted into the High School Basketball, the Women’s Basketball and the Texas Sports halls of fame. She also won the 1993 Disney Outstanding Teacher of the Year award.
Hughes’ 47-year career landed him atop the boys’ coaches’ all-time wins list with 1,333 before he retired from Fort Worth Dunbar in 2005. He led his teams to five state titles and 35 district titles.
“It was an honor for them to have a guy from high school even being looked at by the Hall of Fame,” Hughes, 86, said Monday by phone. “This is something that very seldom happens for high school [coaches]. It makes you grow an extra inch or two taller, but it also tells you, ‘Don’t go around talking about how great I am. Just do what I’ve done and I’ll be fine.’”
Hughes, who began his career at I.M. Terrell, coached a McDonald’s team, was named the NHSCA National High School Coach of the Year in 2003 and won the Wootten Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. He has been inducted into the Texas Basketball and High School Basketball halls of fame.
The list of 2015 Naismith Hall of Fame inductees included longtime NBA referee Dick Bavetta, Kentucky coach John Calipari, former NBA All-Stars Spencer Haywood, Dikembe Mutombo and Jo Jo White and three-time WNBA MVP Lisa Leslie. They join five directly elected members: Louis Dampier, John Isaacs, Lindsay Gaze, Tom Heinsohn and George Raveling.
Former NBA All-Stars Tim Hardaway and Kevin Johnson, former NBA coach Bill Fitch, and Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan — whose Badgers were in Indianapolis preparing for Monday’s title game — were also in the group of finalists who did not make election.
“You’re talking the Hall of Fame looking over your shoulder. Except for being invited in, you can’t get much better than that,” Hughes said. “If it comes again next year, hey, I’ll be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.”
Both coaches will be eligible again next year but will need to be voted in again to make the finalists group.
“Maybe things will work out right and one day I’ll make that basketball Hall of Fame, but I know those that did and I commend them and congratulate them,” Andrews said. “It’s the upper crust. It’s the best of the best. It probably would trump out any other award I’ve gotten in the game of basketball.”