MENU

1,000 Words: Here's who Nevada should put in its Hall of Fame

JaVale McGee
JaVale McGee is now eligible for the Nevada Wolf Pack Hall of Fame. (John Byrne/Nevada athletics)

Nevada Sports Net columnist Chris Murray is known to be a bit wordy, so we're giving him 1,000 words (but no more than that) to share his thoughts from the week that was in the world of sports.

* THE NEVADA WOLF PACK asked this week for nominations for its 2019 Hall of Fame class. Players and teams must wait 10 years before being eligible for induction. Coaches have a five-year wait. Here are some candidates Nevada should consider for its 2019 class (in no particular order).

* FRED GATLIN: I’ve don’t think Gatlin Gun will ever get in, but the dual-threat quarterback was Nevada’s two-time offensive MVP, a member of three conference champions, second in program history in total offense, passing yards and passing touchdowns when he graduated, 33-8 as a starter, helped Nevada reach the FCS title game and is one of three quarterbacks in school history with three wins over UNLV.

* KIRK SNYDER: He was the best player on the best team in school history (the 2004 Sweet 16 team) and a dynamic weapon who ushered in the glory days of Wolf Pack basketball. The 2004 WAC player of the year and No. 16 pick in the NBA draft, Snyder also is the highest draft pick in Nevada hoops history. He had post-career issues (arrested for aggravated burglary and assault), but his playing career was elite.

* JAVALE McGEE: The Big Lemonhead! McGee wasn't necessarily a dominant force at Nevada, playing sparingly as a freshman before being second-team All-WAC as a sophomore. He turned pro after that and has had arguably the best NBA career among Nevada players (only Ramon Sessions could argue he had a better career). He was a mercurial player at Nevada, but McGee is a surefire Hall of Famer.

* DAVID WOOD: Wood never made an all-conference team, which is probably what has kept him out of the Hall of Fame (that’s more or less a requirement). But the two-year Nevada basketball player (from 1985-87, when he averaged 10.4 ppg) logged seven NBA seasons in addition to a strong overseas career. Wood’s 412 career NBA games played rank behind only Sessions and McGee, so he has a pretty strong case.

* DELLENA CRINER: One of Nevada’s best women’s basketball players ever, Criner was a two-time WAC defensive player of the year, three-time All-WAC first-team selection and a three-time academic All-WAC honoree. Upon graduating, she was first in career steals (271), second in free throws (551), third in assists (374) and fourth in scoring (1,629) in program history. She’s eligible this year and should go in on the first ballot.

* KEVIN KOUZMANOFF: Kouz only played one year at Nevada, hitting .361 with 17 homers and 67 RBIs in 2003 while being named an All-American and the WAC player of the year. He played seven successful big-league seasons (.257 average, 143 doubles, 87 homers). Playing just one season at Nevada isn’t ideal for his candidacy, but the Pack has put in players in that situation before (see football player Doug Betters).

* RYAN CHURCH: A two-time All-Big West honoree, Church was a career .364 hitter at Nevada (sixth in school history), which is pretty good considering he started his college career as a pitcher. Church went on to log seven big-league seasons, appearing in 654 games (fifth most for a Wolf Pack alum). His .767 career OPS ranks behind only Lyle Overbay and Rob Richie. Church should be a lock for the Hall of Fame.

* MEGHANN MORRILL: Morrill was a 2008 first-team All-American who finished first in seven of eight competitions during her senior season. She competed in the 2008 U.S. Olympic air rifle tryouts, placing seventh, and ranked as high as fifth in the U.S. women’s air rifle rankings. The only Nevada rifle alum to go into the Hall of Fame is Ryan Tanoue. It’d be nice to see Morrill go in as a nod of the cap to rifle, which has been dropped by a Division I sport by the university.

* TOMMI VIIRRET: New rule: If you win a national championship, you get into Nevada’s Hall of Fame. Of the 12 Wolf Pack athletes to win a national title, 10 are in the Hall of Fame. The other two are diver Sharae Zheng, who isn’t eligible yet, and Viirret. The Finnish skier won the 2002 giant slalom and also was an All-American in 2004 when he finished sixth in the same event. Put him in.

* MICHAEL RAJCAN: The alpine skier was second in the slalom and third in the giant slalom during the 2004 NCAAs, one of two multiple medalists in Wolf Pack skiing history (along with Katerina Hanusova Nash, who is already in the Hall of Fame). Skiing for his native Slovakia, Rajcan also finished 19th in the slalom in the 2002 Olympics and competed in some World Cup events prior to joining Nevada.

* PATRICK HUNTER: His on-field accomplishments are unassailable. The former Nevada defensive back was a 1985 AP All-American and is sixth in program history with 15 interceptions. He played 10 seasons in the NFL, starting 104 games and recording 14 picks. He had off-the-field issues, including being acquitted on two charges of fourth-degree assault in 1990, but also was named to Nevada’s Team of the Century after those issues. If he was cleared for that, he should probably be in the Hall of Fame.

* JOSH MAUGA: The Fallon High native was a star recruit who decided to stay home and play for the Wolf Pack. He made an immediate impact as a Freshman All-American by The Sporting News. Mauga never made an all-conference team, which could sink his candidacy, but he did play 59 NFL games (31 starts) over five seasons. He had 160 tackles in his final two years before injuries ended his career.

* TONY MOLL: A tight end turned offensive lineman during his senior season at Nevada, Moll was an All-WAC first-team pick in 2005 before being a fifth-round pick in the NFL draft. Moll grinded through six NFL seasons, appearing in 63 games with 22 starts. The Wolf Pack has a lot of good offensive linemen coming down the pipe who could make it into the Hall of Fame. Moll’s NFL career sets him apart.

* HORACE GILLOM: The most accomplished player not in Nevada’s Hall of Fame is Gillom, who played football for the Wolf Pack in 1946 when he led the nation in scoring and punting. Gillom played for the Cleveland Browns for 10 seasons, winning three AAFC titles and three NFL titles. He was an end and punter in the NFL, with Paul Brown once saying there “has never been a better punter than Horace.” Gillom did leave Nevada after one year due to poor grades. That might be keeping him out of the Hall of Fame, but he belongs.

* ADAM HAGEN: The two most worthy members of the Nevada golf team to go into the Hall of Fame are Hagen and Casey Watabu, who played together for four seasons. Hagen is second in school history in scoring average (72.47) while Watabu is fifth (73.08). Both were two-time All-WAC honorees (Hagen had one more first-team honor). Both were members of the last Nevada team to make NCAA finals. Both deserve to go in. Hagen has a small edge.

* 2000 SWIMMING AND DIVING TEAM: Nevada has put only five teams into its Hall of Fame. The next one to go in should be this squad, which already has had four individuals inducted. The 2000 team finished a program-best 13th in the nation and had All-America finishers in eight events. The team, led by coach Mike Anderson, another solid candidate, won 15 events in the Big West championship.

Columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. Contact him at crmurray@sbgtv.com or follow him on Twitter @MurrayNSN.

Offbeat News

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER