Wes Unseld, the former Washington Bullets star center and the team's current head coach, was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame yesterday.

Unseld, who played for the Bullets from 1968-69 until 1980-81 and was named MVP of the 1978 NBA championship series that brought Washington its first sports title in 36 years, was elected along with Clyde Lovellette, Bobby McDermott and Oregon State Coach Ralph Miller. For Unseld, the election came in his first year of eligibility.

The 6-foot-7 center out of the University of Louisville was the second player selected in the 1968 draft and became only the second player to win both rookie of the year and most valuable player honors in his first season. Wilt Chamberlain accomplished the feat in the 1959-60 season.

Unseld averaged 10.8 points and 14 rebounds per game for his career and is the Bullets' career leader in games played (984), minutes, rebounds, assists and personal fouls.

"I wasn't flashy and I never played pretty," Unseld told the Associated Press. "My contributions were in the things most people don't notice. They weren't in high scoring or dunking or behind-the-back passes."

Following his retirement after the 1980-81 season, Unseld moved directly into the Bullets front office, and served as vice president and assistant coach until he was named head coach following the firing of Kevin Loughery on Jan. 3. The Bullets have gone 9-6 since.

Bullets President Abe Pollin was delighted with Unseld's selection and didn't feel there was any connection between the extra publicity Unseld has received as coach and his election to the Hall of Fame.

"I don't think the coaching helped," Pollin said. "{On the court} he did all the important things, being a leader and being the heart and soul of the team. He gave 120 percent of himself on the court at all times."

Vice President and General Manager Bob Ferry agreed. "I think he's been one of the most important people in the history of this franchise," he said.

Unseld also has been honored for his off-the-court activities, winning the Kennedy Citizenship Award in 1975, which is given to the NBA player or coach making the greatest civic contribution to his community.

"No one knows about all the things Wes does off the court because he doesn't advertise," Pollin said.

Added Ferry: "Wes is everything you want: a great player and a great person."

Unseld, despite his elation at being elected, was disappointed by the failure of former teammate Earl Monroe to secure the necessary votes to qualify.

"If anybody in his era revolutionized the game, it was Earl. We have Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, but he was the one who set the standard for that type of play," Unseld said.

Lovellette, the former University of Kansas star, was credited with being one of the first high-scoring big men to play the game.

McDermott, who died in a car crash in 1963, turned pro after just one year at Flushing High School in 1932, and was voted the "greatest professional basketball player of all time" in 1945 by the National Basketball League coaches and managers.

Miller is the winningest active coach in Division I, with a 642-358 record at Oregon State.