Standing in a restaurant across from Madison Square Garden, the home to some of his greatest basketball accomplishments, former Maryland star Tom McMillen discussed how the latest honor came by surprise.
Several months ago, longtime Terrapins coach Lefty Driesell submitted McMillen’s name for enshrinement consideration into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. McMillen knew nothing of the process, until a phone call revealed his impending induction as of seven members in the class of 2013.
“It’s quite an honor,” McMillen said Tuesday evening. “I was thinking maybe they needed a gray-haired guy to balance out the picture. It was a very nice honor and the recognition is very much appreciated.”
McMillen and the six other honorees will be recognized at a halftime ceremony during Friday’s Final Four semifinals in Atlanta. The actual induction won’t occur until Nov. 24 in Kansas City.
Forty-one years ago, McMillen won National Invitational Tournament MVP honors in New York, where he later spent one season with the Knicks. The Hall of Fame’s press release came on the eve of Maryland’s 2013 semifinals loss against Iowa, making McMillen’s Terps the last team to reach the NIT championship game.
“That’s nostalgic in a lot of ways,” McMillen said. It’s hard for me to believe it was that long ago. It wouldn’t have happened without my teammates or all my coaches and so forth. Team sports, they’re not based on individuals. It’s a really nice honor.
“If I had to pick the highest honor, that would be the Rhodes Scholar. I won’t rank it below that, but it’s a very high honor. It’s a recognition of something you did while you were in college. This is not about anything but your career in college. It’s an honor to win this. I haven’t given a lot of thought to it, quite frankly. But it’s very much appreciated.”
At halftime of Maryland’s quarterfinal win at Alabama last week, Coach Mark Turgeon scrawled the names of big-time Madison Square Garden performers onto a nearby whiteboard. Then a freshman, McMillen’s 1972 effort – 91 points and 40 rebounds in four games, according to the Baltimore Sun — made the cut.
“We talk a lot to our team about tradition and pride and what it means to play basketball at Maryland,” Turgeon said in a press release. “Tom helped establish those high standards. Before we made it to New York for the NIT semifinals, I told our guys about some of the great players that have graced Madison Square Garden – Tom is one of those players. He helped lead Maryland to the 1972 NIT title and is one of the all-time greats.”
McMillen will be joined by UCLA’s Marques Johnson, the 1977 national player of the year; coaching legends Gene Keady and Rollie Massimino; former Grambling star Bob Hopkins; and “contributors” George Raveling (Nike) and George Killian (FIBA). The 1963 Loyola (Chicago) University team will also become the first team inducted.