John McLendon, who built N.C. Central into a segregation-era powerhouse and later became the first black basketball coach of a predominantly white university and of a professional team, was selected for induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame for a second time on Monday.
McLendon, who died in 1999, was already enshrined as a “contributor” in 1979 but will now be recognized for his coaching accomplishments as well. After learning the game from James Naismith at Kansas, McLendon got his start in coaching at what was then called North Carolina College from 1940-52, where he was credited with inventing the full-court press and an early version of the four corners offense later popularized by Dean Smith.
In 1943, during World War II, at the height of segregation, his all-black team took on Duke’s all-white team in what became known as “The Secret Game.” McLendon went on to win NAIA national titles at Tennessee State and coach at Cleveland State before jumping to the pros with the Cleveland Pipers of the ABL and the Denver Rockets of the ABA.
In 2007, McLendon was inducted into the Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach. N.C. Central’s McDougald-McLendon Gym bears his name. He was one of 10 players, coaches and officials in the induction class announced Monday in Houston. The induction ceremony is Sept. 10 in Springfield, Mass.
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Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, firstname.lastname@example.org, @LukeDeCock