Four Coaches and Two Players Headed to NJCAA Basketball Hall of Fame

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Jan. 25, 2011
Contact: Mark Krug, NJCAA Director of Media Relations &
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Four Coaches and Two Players Headed to NJCAA Basketball Hall of Fame

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The 2011 Basketball Hall of Fame class has been released by the NJCAA Men’s Basketball Coaches Association.  The class includes the legendary Troy Arlis Ricks, Sr. of Mississippi, Gloucester County College (N.J.) head coach Stephen Solomone, head coach Allen Pickering of Lincoln College (Ill.),  Iowa Central Community College (Iowa) head coach Dennis Pilcher, and former Moberly Junior College (Mo.) players McCoy McLemore and Phillip Murrell.

Troy Arlis Ricks, Sr.
Head Coach/Player
Mississippi Delta Community College, Hinds Community College (Miss.) & Copiah-Lincoln Community College (Miss.)

Troy Arlis Ricks, Sr., a man who possessed outstanding character as a coach and player joins the NJCAA Hall of Fame. In his coaching career at Hinds Community College, which lasted from 1951 to 1970, Ricks finished with a record of 496-58. Prior to Hinds, Ricks coached at Copiah-Lincoln Community College for two seasons where he twice led his team to the Mississippi state title. In 1967, his Hinds team also a Mississippi state championship. In his last 10 years of coaching, eight of his teams finished in the top four in the state.

Before his coaching days, Ricks was an incredible basketball player himself. He was named to the All-Tournament Team in every tournament he played in high school --which then, games were played outdoors. He then attended Sunflower Junior College (now Mississippi Delta Community College) and led the school to two state championships and the Mississippi Valley Conference Championship, being named Most Valuable Player both years. From there, he attended Delta State University where his team finished third in the National Tournament and he was selected to the NAIB All-Tournament Team. He eventually played professionally for the Union Wire Rope before being drafted into the Army.

Ricks received several honors for his coaching success and unmatched character.  In 1970, his last year of coaching, Ricks was given the Distinguished Service Award by the Mississippi Association of Coaches. He is already a member of the following Halls of Fame in Mississippi: Hinds Community College Hall of Fame, Copiah-Lincoln Community College Hall of Fame, Mississippi Delta Community College Hall of Fame, Delta State University Hall of Fame, and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.

Stephen Solomone
Head Coach
Gloucester County College (N.J.)

Stephen Solomone enjoyed 11 successful seasons at Gloucester County College where he amassed an unbelievable record of 301-48 with a winning percentage of .862. During this time, his teams won six Region 19 Championships and appeared in six NJCAA Division III National Tournaments. In 1994, Solomone’s team won the NJCAA DIII Championship with a perfect 30-0 record. Under his guidance, eight Gloucester players were named NJCAA All-Americans and two were crowned as NJCAA Division III Players of the Year.

Solomone received several honors during his time at Gloucester, including six Region 19 Coach of the Year awards (1994-1997, 1999, and 2000), the NJCAA Coach of the Year honor in 1995, and the NJCAA Division III Coach of the Year award in 1994. He was also inducted into the Gloucester County Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.

Not only is Solomone stellar on the sideline, but he gives back to the basketball community as well. He served as a guest speaker at the NJCAA Men’s Basketball Coaches Association meeting in 1995. He also ran local youth basketball camps from 1991 to 2001. Between 1994 and 2000, he was a guest speaker at basketball camps and clinics throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Allen Pickering
Head Coach
Lincoln College (Ill.)

Allen Pickering contributed much of his life to coaching basketball at Lincoln College, from 1971 to 1987, and finished with an amazing record of 368-155. During that time he recorded 11 years of 20-win seasons, including six in a row from 1979 to 1985. During the 1980-1981 season, his team set a new school record with 33 wins.

Pickering led Lincoln to two Region Championships during his tenure to go along with a runner-up finish at the NJCAA Championship Tournament in 1981.

He was selected by the USA Basketball Olympic Committee as a clinician for three international clinics and in the early 1990's Pickering helped found the Collegiate Conference of Central Illinois.

In 2006, he retired as Vice President of Student Services and Athletic Director, where he served from 1987 to 2006.

Two Hall of Fames (Illinois Basketball Coaches Association and Illinois State Athletics) have already inducted Pickering into their elite collection of members.

Dennis Pilcher
Head Coach
Iowa Central Community College (Iowa) & Dyersburg State Community College (Tenn.)

Dennis Pilcher has coached for 39 years, 31 at Iowa Central Community College and eight at Dyersburg State Community College (Tenn.), and has been has seen much success. Pilcher entered the 2010-11 season with an overall record of 698-451.

In 1993, Pilcher was honored as Iowa College Basketball Coach of the Year and in 1989 he was honored as Region XI Coach of the Year. Known for his fundamentally sound, defense-first teams, Pilcher led the Tritons into the 1989 NJCAA Championship Tournament at Hutchinson, Kan., and has four times coached Region XI runner-up teams.

A graduate of Murray State University, Pilcher severed as Iowa Central’s athletic director for 20 years, overseeing 19 interscholastic sports, the most of any of Iowa’s 15 community colleges.

At ICC Pilcher helped host several NJCAA Championship and Region 11 events, including the Division II Softball Championship and assisted with the 2010 NJCAA Wrestling Championship.

With almost four decades of NJCAA basketball service, Pilcher deservingly enters the NJCAA Men’s Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

McCoy McLemore
Player
Moberly Junior College (MO)
1960-62

McCoy McLemore began his collegiate basketball career at Moberly Junior College (now Moberly Area Community College) after graduation from Jack Yates High School in Houston, Texas. At Moberly, he was the second leading scorer his freshman year behind All-American Roscoe White and helped lead his team to a 27-4 record. In his second season at Moberly JC, McLemore led the Greyhounds to a third-place finish at the NJCAA Championship Tournament and was named to the All-Tournament Team in addition to being honored on the All-Region 16 Team and was a First-Team All-American. He averaged 21.3 points and 21.3 rebounds per game his sophomore year and still holds several school records.  

After Moberly, McLemore continued on to Drake University where he led the 1963-1964 team to a 21-7 record and a share of the Missouri Valley Conference title. McCoy was a First-Team All-MVC player and led the Bulldogs in scoring and rebounding both seasons at Drake. When his career at Drake finished, he held the school record for rebounds in a season and ranked third in rebounds in a career.

From Drake University, McLemore was selected by the Warriors in the 1964 NBA Draft. He played eight seasons (1964 to 1972) with the San Francisco Warriors, Chicago Bulls, Phoenix Suns, Detroit Pistons, Cleveland Cavaliers, Milwaukee Bucks, and Houston Rockets.  He was also a member of the 1970-1971 NBA Champion Bucks’ team where he played a reserve forward role and posted averages of 4.7 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.1 assists. McLemore appeared in 580 career regular season games in the NBA, scoring 5,130 points with 3,161 rebounds.

After his career as a player ended, McCoy continued to serve the basketball community by working as a color-analyst for the Houston Rockets in the 1980’s. On April 30, 2009, McCoy McLemore passed away at the age of 67.

Phillip “Red” Murrell
Player
Moberly Junior College (MO)
1954-55

Phillip “Red” Murrell holds a special place in Moberly Junior College history. After stints at the University of Missouri, the Army, and Ford Motor Company, Murrell settled in at Moberly in the mid-1950’s. In the 1954-1955 season, Red led the Greyhounds in scoring as a freshman with 571 points and was named to the Second- Team All-American squad. That year, he led the team to a 29-4 record and a NJCAA Championship.  

After his freshman year at Moberly, Murrell transferred to Drake University with Hall of Fame teammate Jim Carey.  In three seasons playing for the Bulldogs, Red led the team in scoring every year. In the 1956-1957 season, Murrell averaged 24.5 points per game and finished 13th in the nation and set school records for point average and total points in a season.

After being  drafted by the Minneapolis Lakers in the 6th round, Red decided to return to Drake to continue playing college basketball. In December of 1956, Murrell recorded the first 20 point-20 rebound game in school history and then repeated the feat two nights later. At the end of his senior season, Red ranked fifth in scoring (behind Oscar Robertson, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, and Bailey Howell), averaging 26.7 points per game. In his final game, Murrell scored the game-winning basket in an overtime win against Houston and totaled 51 points on the night; he was then carried off the floor by teammates. He currently is the all-time scoring leader at Drake.  

Murrell was chosen in the 4th round of the NBA draft by the Cincinnati Royals; however, Murrell again opted out of a career in the NBA and decided to join the AAU powerhouse Phillips Oilers of the Industrial Basketball League. In the 1959-1960 season with the Oilers, Murrell led the team to a 41-13 record and a trip to the league championship. He was also named an AAU All-American. Red ended his career with the sixth-best scoring average in Oiler history.

Murrell was inducted into the Iowa Sports Hall of Fame in 2005 and will be remembered for his uncanny shooting talent and his devoted spirit to the game of basketball.

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