Three of the area's most prominent basketball coaches have been nominated for election to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

DeMatha High School Coach Morgan Wootten, former Georgetown coach John Thompson and Mount St. Mary's Coach Jim Phelan were among the eight former players, four coaches and one contributor selected by the Hall of Fame's North American screening committee. For enshrinement, a nominee needs 18 of 24 votes from the Hall's honors committee.

"It really did come out of the blue," Wootten said. "I'm flattered and honored. The Hall of Fame is such a beacon of the game that we love so much. It protects the welfare of the game and generates interest in the game. It's certainly an honor to be thought of."

Wootten was nominated five times previously, but not since 1984. Thompson and Phelan were nominated twice before.

Other nominees for the Hall of Fame are the late Baltimore Bullets star Gus Johnson, Kevin McHale, Maurice Cheeks, Dennis Johnson, Bob McAdoo, Sidney Moncrief, Chet Walker, Jo Jo White, Tex Winter and Wayne Embry. McHale, Cheeks, McAdoo and Embry are first-time nominees. This year's inductees will be announced later in the month.

Wootten, the nation's winningest boys high school basketball coach, has coached for 43 seasons at DeMatha and has a 1,185-178 record. The Stags have won 14 City Titles and 31 conference championships under Wootten. His teams have finished as The Post's top-ranked team 21 times and five of his teams have won unofficial national titles. Twelve of his former assistants are college or professional coaches.

Thompson, who led Georgetown to an NCAA championship in 1984, coached the Hoyas for 27 seasons until stepping down Jan. 8. His teams went 596-239, reached the Final Four three times and made 24 consecutive postseason appearances. Twenty-six of his players were drafted by the NBA. In his brief NBA career, Thompson was a backup center to Bill Russell on two Boston Celtics title teams.

Phelan, who has coached for 45 seasons at Mount St. Mary's, won his 800th game this season, joining Dean Smith, Adolph Rupp and Clarence "Big House" Gaines as the only college coaches to reach that mark. Only Phelan and Gaines have spent as many as 45 seasons at one school.