COLUMBUS--Three former Miami University men's basketball players--Wally Szczerbiak, Randy Ayers and Ron Niekamp--will be inducted as part of the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2013 in a ceremony that will take place this Saturday (May 18).
They will join fellow Miami University men's basketball alumni Ron Harper, Wayne Embry and Ray Mears, former head coach Dick Shrider, and former men's basketball alumni and head coaches Darrell Hedric and Charlie Coles in the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame.
Embry (‘58), a Charter Member of the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame, will be the featured speaker at Saturday’s Eighth Annual Induction Ceremony and also will be honored with the 2013 Ohio Heritage Award. The award was created in 2012 to honor inductees of previous classes who have had a significant impact on Ohio after his or her basketball career has ended.
A pioneer in the leadership of professional sports organizations, Embry received the highest honor a basketball player can achieve with his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. in 1999. Following his graduation from Miami, Embry played 11 years of professional basketball with the Cincinnati Royals, Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks and was a five-time NBA All-Star. Upon his retirement from playing professional basketball, Embry continued his involvement with the sport. He was named General Manager of the Milwaukee Bucks in 1974 and later went on to become the President and CEO of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Embry currently is serving as the Senior Basketball Advisor to the President for the NBA’s Toronto Raptors.
His illustrious basketball career at Miami includes Third-Team Helms Athletic Foundation All-America honors, two stints on the All-MAC First Team, two MAC Championships and two NCAA Tournament appearances. He is one of 14 players in MAC history to amass 1,000 career points and rebounds and ranks second all-time at Miami in career rebounds. Embry continues to own Miami records for most rebounds in a game and a season and best career rebounding average. He was inducted to the Miami Athletics Hall of Fame in 1970 and had his jersey No. 23 retired in 1995.
After leading Miami to the 1999 Sweet 16, the first time in program history Miami has won two NCAA Tournament games, Szczerbiak ('99) was named a first-team All-American by Basketball News, Sports Illustrated, Basketball America and John Wooden and a second-team All-American by the Associated Press, NABC and USBWA. He was a finalist for the Naismith, Robertson and Wooden player of the year awards. A two-time first-team all-MAC pick (1998 and 1999), Szczerbiak was a unanimous selection as the 1999 MAC Player of the Year and was the Miami Male Athlete of the Year in 1998-99. He is one of just two MU players to be named to the MAC all-tournament team three times (1997, 1998, 1999) and is Miami's career record holder for 3-point field-goal percentage and its single-season record holder for points, free throws and 3-point field-goal percentage. With 1,847 points, Szczerbiak is Miami's second all-time leading scorer. He is ranked among Miami career leaders on 11 of 19 top-10 lists.
In 1999, he helped the RedHawks tie a school record for wins with 24 and averaged 24.2 ppg, which ranked third nationally. He played in the 1997 and 1999 NCAA Tournaments and the 1996 NIT and helped Miami to regular-season MAC titles in 1997 and 1999 and a tournament crown in 1997. Following his illustrious Miami career, Szczerbiak was selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves as the sixth overall pick in the 1999 NBA Draft. He was member of the 2000 NBA All-Rookie Team and the MVP of the 2001 Schick Rookie Challenge game. Szczerbiak also spent two seasons with the Boston Celtics and a stint with the Seattle SuperSonics. He played 10 seasons in the NBA, his last stop with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Miami Hall-of-Famer is the most recent men's basketball player to have his number retired by the university with its retirement in 2001.He also was inducted into the Cincinnati Basketball Hall of Fame in May 2011 and was inducted into the Nassau County Hall of Fame in Spring 2012.
Ayers ('78, '81), who was noted as being selected for induction for his coaching contributions, has been a men's basketball coach at the collegiate and professional ranks for more than three decades. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Miami following an illustrious playing career. Ayers moved on to stints as an assistant coach at West Point (1982-84) and Ohio State (1984-89) before assuming his first head coaching position in 1989-90, guiding the Buckeyes for eight seasons. At the helm of the Ohio State program, Ayers led the Buckeyes to NCAA Tournament appearances in his first three seasons and an NIT berth in his fourth season while boasting a Big Ten Co-Championship in 1990-91 and an outright title in 1991-92. His teams earned two consecutive No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament and finished fifth in the final Associated Press poll in 1991 and third in 1992. Ayers was tabbed the AP National Coach of the Year in 1991 and earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors in 1991 and 1992.
He began his tenure among the NBA coaching ranks in 1997-98 as an assistant coach with the Philadelphia 76ers. As the head assistant, Ayers helped Philadelphia to five-consecutive playoff appearances, including a trip to the 2001 NBA Finals. He held that position until assuming the head post with the 76ers prior to the 2003-04 campaign. Following the 2004 season, Ayers moved on to assistant coaching positions with the Orlando Magic (2005-07) and the Washington Wizards (2007-09) before returning to Philadelphia as an assistant coach in 2009-10. In August 2010, Ayers was named an assistant coach with the New Orleans Hornets and has spent the past two seasons with the organization. He was promoted to lead assistant in June 2011. A four-time All-MAC selection who helped Miami to a pair of MAC Championships in 1977 and 1978, Ayers and the Red and White upset defending national champion Marquette in the first round of the 1978 NCAA Tournament. He was inducted into the Miami Athletics Hall of Fame in 1991 and will be inducted into Miami's Cradle of Coaches Association in September 2012.
Niekamp ('72), who also was noted as being selected for induction for his coaching contributions, retired as the all-time leader in basketball victories at The University of Findlay. Niekamp compiled a 598-185 career record in 26 seasons guiding the Oiler program. In 2009, he led the Oilers to a 36-0 record en route to a NCAA Division II National Championship which is the best mark in the history of DII men's basketball. Niekamp was tabbed the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) National Coach of the Year in 2009. During Niekamp's tenure he compiled a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) record of 197-57, which included ten GLIAC South Division regular-season championships (1998, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011) and five GLIAC Tournament titles (2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010). Before joining the NCAA Division II ranks full-time in 2000-01, Niekamp won two District 22 championships, two Mid Ohio Conference (MOC) titles and two NAIA Division I Great Lakes Sectional titles with the Oilers.
Niekamp, who never had a losing season at Findlay, guided the Oilers to 20, 20-win campaigns in his career. He was named GLIAC Coach of the Year five times (2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009) and NCAA Division II Midwest Coach of the Year three times (2005, 2007, 2009). Before his tenure at Findlay, Niekamp enjoyed a successful run in the prep ranks, posting a 208-86 record at Parkway, Ottawa-Glandorf and Lima Senior. In 1977, Niekamp was named the Ohio High School Class AA Coach of the Year with Ottawa-Glandorf and took the Titans to the Ohio State High School Final Four twice (1977, 1978). While at Lima Senior, Niekamp made a return trip to the Final Four in 1982. A two-year letterwinner at Miami, Niekamp was inducted into Miami's Cradle of Coaches Association in August 2004.
Other inductees to go into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame are Brad Daugherty, Fran Guilbault, Howard Jolliff, Kenyon Martin, James Morgan, Steve Trout, Barbara Turner, Bill Uhl and Tamika Williams Raymond along with Dayton Belmont High School's 1964 Class A (big school) State Champion boys team and Niekamp's University of Findlay undefeated 2009 NCAA Division II National Champions.
Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame Website