March 13, 2009
SAN BRUNO, Calif. - Six of the WCC's all-time greatest athletes and two of the conference's top coaches headlined the WCC's inaugural Hall of Honor class. WCCTV was on hand to capture this historic moment.
The members were formally inducted at the 2009 WCC Hall of Honor Brunch on Saturday, March 7 at the Orleans Arena, and were honored the next day during halftime of the first men's basketball semifinal game on March 8.
This year's honorees included eight individuals that span a long history of outstanding athletic achievements across the WCC's eight respective institutions. The inductees include: Loyola Marymount's Hank Gathers, the conference's first two-time tournament MVP and the leading scorer in the event's 19-year history; 1991 and 1992 All-American and conference MVP Doug Christie from Pepperdine; Frank Burgess, who led Gonzaga in scoring for three seasons and won the national collegiate scoring crown in 1961; head coach Clive Charles, who led Portland's men's and women's soccer teams to 439 victories, 20 national playoff berths, 13 league titles, and a national championship; the most winningest Santa Clara men's basketball coach and former athletic director Carroll Williams; Tom Meschery, who concluded his collegiate career as Saint Mary's leading rebounder and 12th leading scorer; former USD basketball captain and MVP Bernie Bickerstaff, who later coached USD's men basketball team and moved on to coach in the NBA; and USF Hall of Famer Joe Ellis, who represented the U.S. in the World Games.
"We are very proud of the inaugural Hall of Honor class," said WCC Commissioner Jamie Zaninovich. "The list of inductees represents the West Coast Conference's strong tradition of athletic excellence."
All inductees were present at the Hall of Honor Brunch in Las Vegas with the exception of the late Hank Gathers and Clive Charles. Attending on behalf of Gathers was former LMU teammate, Jeff Fryer, while Clarena Charles attended to honor her husband.
The 2009 Hall of Honor inductees are as follows:
FRANK BURGESS, Gonzaga University
Frank Burgess came to Gonzaga right out of the Air Force in 1958. The 6'1" sharpshooter led the Bulldogs in scoring for three seasons and won the national collegiate scoring crown for the 1960-61 season with 842 points in 26 games and a 32.4 scoring average. Burgess scored what is today still a school-best 2,196 points in his three years at Gonzaga (he spent a pre-military year at Arkansas AM&N) and scored more than 40 points in a game seven times including a school-record 52 against California-Davis his senior year.
Burgess was a Helms Foundation All-American selection in his junior and senior year and was an All-American choice by the major wire services in his senior year. After two seasons with Hawaii in the professional American Basketball League, he returned to Gonzaga to attend law school and graduated near the top of his class. He was inducted into the Inland Empire Sports Hall of Fame in 1985. Gonzaga University retired his No. 44 jersey Feb. 19, 2005, and today it hangs in the McCarthey Athletic Center rafters.
HANK GATHERS, Loyola Marymount University
One of the greatest players in West Coast Conference history, Loyola Marymount's Hank Gathers became the conference's first two-time tournament MVP and is the leading scorer in the event's 19-year history. Led by Gathers, the Lions won back-to-back tournament titles in 1988 and 1989 and set a WCC record for most points in a tournament with 323 total points (107.7 ppg) in 1988. Gathers' 1988 tournament was highlighted by an amazing 33-point, 18-rebound performance in LMU's first round win over Portland. In that same season, he became the second player in history to lead NCAA Division I in scoring and rebounding in the same season, averaging 32.7 points and 13.7 rebounds per game.
Gathers passed away tragically during the semifinal game of the 1990 WCC Tournament, which resulted in the tournament being suspended and Loyola Marymount being given the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. In seven career WCC Tournament games, Gathers scored a record 186 points for a 26.6 points per game average, the highest clip in league history.
DOUG CHRISTIE, Pepperdine University
Doug Christie, a 6'6" shooting guard, was the WCC's MVP in 1991 and 1992. In both seasons, Christie was also named All-American and a member of the All-WCC First Team, as he led the school in scoring, assists, and steals. His 1,392 career points made him the school's 15th leading scorer while his 395 assists placed him third in school history.
Swingman Christie attracted dozens of NBA scouts to Firestone Fieldhouse and was later selected 17th overall in the 1992 NBA Draft by the Seattle SuperSonics. Christie played for the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, Toronto Raptors, Sacramento Kings, Orlando Magic, Dallas Mavericks, and Los Angeles Clippers, where he would end his professional career. While playing for the Kings, Christie developed into one of the league's best defenders and was perennially named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team.
CLIVE CHARLES, University of Portland
Clive Charles was the greatest coach in more than a century of University of Portland athletics, leading his women's and men's soccer teams to 439 victories, 20 national playoff berths, 13 conference titles, and a national championship. His players went on to play on the national teams of Canada, Mexico, and the United States, and also play in the professional ranks in America and Europe and Asia. Others earned Olympic gold medals and won World Cups. He coached the United States Olympic Team (1996-2000) and Women's National Team (1993-1996). He was a professional soccer star in England, Wales, and North America, and was named to the all-time North American Soccer League team.
Just before the Olympics in August 2000, Charles was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Despite the harsh news, Charles still coached the U.S. to a fourth place finish in the Olympic Games. Charles also continued to coach both the men's and women's Portland teams until his death. During his last season (2002), the Portland women's team won the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championship.
TOM MESCHERY, Saint Mary's College
Tom Meschery was a 6'6" power forward who played for Saint Mary's from 1957-1961. Averaging 16.7 points and 13.6 rebounds per game, Meschery concluded his collegiate career as the school's leading rebounder (916) and his 1,126 career points ranked 12th all-time at Saint Mary's. Meschery's No. 31 was the first basketball number ever retired by the college.
Meschery then went on to play 10 seasons in the NBA. The first six seasons were spent playing for the Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors, where he competed in the 1963 NBA All-Star Game. The Warriors also retired his jersey number (No. 14). Meschery then spent his last four seasons with the Seattle Supersonics before retiring in 1971, the same year in which he became head coach of the ABA's Carolina Cougars. Meschery was also inducted to the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2003.
BERNIE BICKERSTAFF, University of San Diego
A point guard for two seasons at USD (1964-1966), Bernie Bickerstaff was team captain and MVP his senior year. Named USD head coach in 1969, he was an assistant to legendary coach Phil Woolpert for three years (1966-69). His 1972-1973 squad that finished with a 19-9 record and his own four-year mark of 55-49 highlighted his USD coaching career. Bickerstaff was inducted into USD's Chet & Marguerite Pagni Family Athletic Hall of Fame in 1994.
After USD, he joined the Washington Bullets as an assistant coach. As the top assistant in 1978, the Bullets won the NBA Championship. Hired by the Seattle Supersonics in 1985 as head coach, Bickerstaff led the team to the NBA playoffs three times and was named NBA Coach of the Year in 1987. After Seattle, Bernie served as head coach and held high ranking administrative roles with the Denver Nuggets, Washington Wizards and Charlotte Bobcats. With over 30 years of coaching & administrative experience in the NBA, Bernie is currently an assistant coach with the Chicago Bulls.
JOE ELLIS, University of San Francisco
Joseph (Joe) Franklin Ellis attended USF from 1962-1966 and captured First Team All-Conference honors in all three seasons as a varsity player. The 6'6", 175 pound, Ellis, who departed USF as the third leading scorer in program history (1,120), earned Northern California Player of the Year accolades and All American honorable mention selection. He was also one of four juniors chosen in 1965 to represent the United States in the World University Games. Inducted into the USF Hall of Fame in 1973, Ellis was named one of 75 "Legends of the Hilltop" in 2006 for the 150th anniversary of the University of San Francisco.
Upon graduation, Ellis was selected by the San Francisco Warriors in the second round (13th pick overall) of the 1966 NBA Draft. The Oakland native averaged double-figure scoring averages in three successive seasons, including a career-best 15.8 points per game in 1969-70. In eight NBA seasons - all with the Warriors - Ellis scored 4,825 points, averaging 8.6 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.
CARROLL WILLIAMS, Santa Clara University
Carroll Williams, former San Jose State basketball star and Stockton native, was the winningest coach in Bronco basketball history. During his 22 years as head coach of the SCU men's basketball team, Williams compiled a 344-274 career record and led the Broncos to five post-season appearances, including one trip to the NCAA Tournament and four to the NIT. Some of his players include two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash and former Los Angeles Laker Kurt Rambis.
As the Bronco Athletic Director, Williams guided athletic programs at Santa Clara University to continued levels of national prominence. His final year as athletic director was highlighted by a second consecutive year of NCAA semi-final appearances by the Bronco men's and women's soccer teams. During his eight years, he oversaw 19 West Coast Conference championships in seven sports and 23 post-season tournaments. He also added two sports teams (women's water polo and women's golf), increased scholarship support for student athletes, and revamped the campus' athletic facilities.