Santa Clara University To Honor Six Former Basketball Greats
Jan. 5, 2007
Santa Clara, Calif. - The Santa Clara University Athletic Department announced that in celebration of its 100th season of men's basketball in 2006-07, six basketball players will be honored by having their jerseys raised to the rafters in the Leavey Center. Bob Feerick, Ken Sears, Nick Vanos, Bud Ogden, Dennis Awtrey and Kurt Rambis will receive the honor this year, joining Steve Nash, who had his jersey hung in the rafters on September 18, 2006. All seven players made significant contributions to the basketball program at SCU. The numbers of all the seven players, except for Vanos' 32, will still be available to current and future SCU players.
"We feel that the occasion of the 100th season of basketball at Santa Clara offers the perfect opportunity to look back upon the last century and take time to honor those who have made Santa Clara basketball so special," said Director of Athletics and Recreation Dan Coonan. "We are proud to call these players members of the Santa Clara family and they are all very deserving of the honor of having their jerseys hung in the Leavey Center."
The players chosen for the honor were selected by the Santa Clara Basketball Legacy Committee, which is comprised of current and former Santa Clara basketball administrators and coaches as well as long-time supporters of the basketball program.
Feerick, who wore No. 5, will be the first to join Nash in the rafters, as he will be honored on Jan. 13 at halftime of the Broncos' game against the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Feerick, who died in 1976, will be represented at the ceremony by a number of members of his family, including his wife, Eleanor. A 1941 graduate of Santa Clara, Feerick was a member of the famed "Magicians of the Maplewood" that led Santa Clara to a 47-15 record from 1938-41. Feerick and his teammates became the first Bronco team to play in Madison Square Garden, where they won three games in 1939 and 1940. He was named an All-American in 1941 for his outstanding play. As a player, Feerick went on to play in the NBA for the Washington Capitols, earning All-NBA honors three times and leading the Capitols to the NBA Finals in 1949. After finishing his playing career, Feerick returned to Santa Clara as the head coach for 12 seasons, leading the Broncos to their only Final Four appearance in 1952 in just his second season as coach. Overall, Santa Clara reached the NCAA tournament four times under Feerick and won three West Coast Conference titles. He was named WCC Coach of the Year three times during his career. After leaving Santa Clara in 1962, he coached Wilt Chamberlain and the San Francisco Warriors for a season.
Sears spent four years (1951-55) on the Mission Campus playing for Feerick and helped lead the Broncos to the NCAA tournament three times. The Watsonville native was first-team All-WCC three times and won the WCC Player of the Year award in 1955, beating out San Francisco's Bill Russell for the honor. He was also an All-American as a senior in 1955. For his career, Sears ranks seventh in scoring and rebounding in Santa Clara history with 1,586 points and 733 rebounds. He is first all-time in free throw made (470) and attempted (608). As a senior, he averaged 22.3 points per game, the second highest single-season scoring average in school history, while capping that season with a 41-point, 30-rebound performance against Pacific in the final conference game of the year. That rebound total still ranks first in SCU history for a single game. After four years at SCU, Sears played in the NBA for the New York Knicks and San Francisco Warriors and was twice named an all-star. Sears will be in attendance for the ceremony at halftime of the Santa Clara game against Loyola Marymount on Jan. 27 when his No. 55 will be hung in the rafters.
The only player to have his jersey number retired, Nick Vanos, will now have his No. 32 hung in the rafters as well. Vanos' ceremony will take place on Jan. 29 when the Broncos take on Pepperdine. Vanos was one of the best centers in school history and went on to play two seasons for the NBA's Phoenix Suns, before his life was tragically cut short on Aug. 16, 1987 in a place crash at age 24. Vanos played four seasons under Carroll Williams from 1981-85, helping the Broncos to three 20-win seasons and two trips to the National Invitation Tournament. A local player from the Bay Area, Vanos is the school's all-time leader in blocked shots with 159 and ranks third in rebounding with 876. He scored 1,399 points in his Bronco career good for 11th all-time. He was named the Cable Car Classic MVP in 1984 and 1985, scoring 27 points and notching 18 rebounds in the 1985 final. His parents, Peter and Josie, along with other family members will be present for his ceremony on Jan. 29.
Fittingly, two of the greatest Broncos ever will be honored together on Feb. 5 as both Bud Ogden and Dennis Awtrey's jerseys will join the others in the Leavey Center rafters. Ogden, No. 34, and Awtrey, No. 53, combined to lead Santa Clara to perhaps the two greatest seasons in school history in 1967-68 and 1968-69. SCU won 35 straight regular season games during those two seasons and posted a 49-6 record, while reaching the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament both years. Ogden, who was one year ahead of Awtrey, earned All-America honors in 1969 and finished his career with 1,437 points in three seasons to place 10th all-time in scoring at Santa Clara. As a sophomore he set the school-record for points in a game with 55 against Pepperdine. Ogden is third all-time in scoring average at 18.2 points per game. Awtrey's career was equally impressive as he ranks first all-time in scoring average at 19.9, while being fifth all-time in scoring (1,675) and first in rebounding (1,135). Awtrey was named an All-American in 1970 when he helped the Broncos win their third consecutive WCC title and earn their third straight trip to the NCAA tournament. Awtrey was twice named WCC Player of the Year--1968-69 and 1969-70. Both Awtrey and Ogden went on to reach the NBA with the Philadelphia 76ers, while Awtrey later helped the Seattle SuperSonics win their only NBA Championship in 1979. Ogden and Awtrey will share center court one more time at halftime on Feb. 5 when Santa Clara faces its biggest rival, the San Francisco Dons.
The school's all-time leading scorer, Kurt Rambis, who also wore No. 34, will be the final player to have his jersey hung in the rafters this season. The former Cupertino High School star is tentatively scheduled to come to Santa Clara for the ceremony on Feb. 17 when the Broncos play the University of San Diego on Senior Day. Rambis scored 1,736 points during his four seasons at SCU from 1976-80, a total that has still not been topped. He is also one of only two SCU players to grab over 1,000 rebounds in his career, finishing with 1,037. He was named the WCC's Freshman of the Year in 1976-77 and was the conference's Player of the Year in 1979-80. In his first two years at Santa Clara, Rambis helped the team win 38 games after winning just 10 the year before he arrived. Rambis' career continued in the NBA, where he played 14 seasons and helped the Los Angeles Lakers win four championships. He is currently an assistant coach for the Lakers, an occupation that may prevent him from being able to come to Santa Clara on Feb. 17.
At the end of their centennial season, the Leavey Center will proudly display banners for seven of the greatest players ever to don a Bronco uniform. The names Awtrey, Feerick, Nash, Ogden, Rambis, Sears and Vanos will hang there permanently to honor their contributions to the success and tradition of Santa Clara basketball.