Knoxville is a familiar place for Becky Hammon. It’s where she spent the offseason in 2003, playing for the Tennessee Fury of the defunct National Women’s Basketball League.
Hammon, who was with the New York Liberty in the WNBA at the time, led the NWBL in scoring with 20.6 points per game. Her teammates included former Tennessee Lady Vols Shalon Pillow and Semeka Randall, and the league – which ran in the WNBA offseason from 1997-2007 – was packed with talent. In the Fury’s NWBL debut hosted at Maryville College, it was victorious over the Springfield Spirit, which had a roster with Sue Bird, Swin Cash and Rebecca Lobo on it.
The new Las Vegas Aces coach and six-time WNBA All-Star will return to Knoxville to be inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame on June 11. She will join the seven others announced Monday night for the induction ceremony for the 23rd class at the Tennessee Theatre. Tickets can be purchased at the WBHOF website.
2022 FINALISTS:Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame announces Class of 2022 finalists: Becky Hammon makes list of 12
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Also being inducted are broadcast analyst Debbie Antonelli, veteran player Alice “Cookie” Barron, DePaul coach Doug Bruno, two-time WNBA champion Delisha Milton-Jones, three-time WNBA champion Penny Taylor and former coaches Paul Sanderford and Bob Schneider.
Antonelli is the only non-player or coach to be inducted in the 2022 class and is in her 34th season on air as a basketball analyst. She appears on multiple networks for both women’s and men’s college basketball games, as well as WNBA games. Antonelli has won two Emmys and one Gracie Award and was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 2021.
All the players besides Hammon being inducted have one thing in common: multiple championships at the professional or college level and national team medals. Barron was a legendary player for the Wayland Baptist Flying Queens and led them to three national championships and a record of 104-0. She also played a key role in USA Basketball’s gold medal in the 1957 FIBA World Championships.
Milton-Jones was a first round draft pick twice – first the no. 2 pick in the American Basketball League and then the No. 4 pick in the 1999 WNBA draft after the ABL folded. She was a three-time WNBA All-Star in addition to her two championships with the Los Angeles Sparks. Milton-Jones was also the 1997 Wade Trophy winner after her senior year at Florida and won Olympic gold medals in 2000 and 2008. Milton-Jones is the coach at Old Dominion.
Taylor, a forward from Melbourne, Australia, played 10 of her 13 WNBA seasons with the Phoenix Mercury, where she won three championships and was named a WNBA All-Star three times. Taylor made appearances on the Australian national team from 2002-16 and won two Olympic silver medals in 2004 and 2008. Between the Olympic silver medals, Taylor led the Opals to the 2006 World Championship and was named MVP.
Hammon’s rise from undrafted player to WNBA All-Star in only a few seasons is impressive. Hammon is also a trailblazer in the coaching world, becoming the first woman to be hired as a full-time NBA assistant in 2014. She held that position with the San Antonio Spurs until her recent hiring by the Las Vegas Aces.
In his 36th year as coach of DePaul, Bruno has made 24 NCAA Tournament appearances and recorded 756 career wins. Bruno has been named Big East Coach of the Year three times and is a six-time gold medalist coach with USA Basketball. With Bruno at the helm, DePaul has won five Big East Tournaments and six Big East regular season titles.
In 25 seasons, Sanderford was 453-189. His 15 seasons at Western Kentucky resulted in 12 NCAA Tournament appearances, three Final Fours and a trip to the 1992 NCAA title game, which Stanford won. In the 1985-86 season, Sanderford led Western Kentucky to a school-record 32 victories.
Schneider, who was a WBHOF finalist in 2019 and 2020, amassed a record of 1,045-293 in his 43-year coaching career. He’s the 11th winningest coach in Division II history with 585 wins at West Texas A&M. Schneider found success at the high school level in his 12 years at Canyon, when his teams won five state championships and finished runner-up five times.
In addition to the 2022 class, the hall of fame announced its recipient for the Trailblazers of the Game: Title IX, the legislation that created opportunities for girls and women to play sports at all levels and is nearing its 50th anniversary this year.