Coach Magee named Basketball Hall of Fame finalist

For more than 40 years, Philadelphia University’s Men’s Basketball Coach Herb Magee has been racking up records and accolades.

He’s been named the national Coach of the Year, the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Coach of the Year and is a member of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.

Magee also holds the record for most NCAA wins in college basketball history with 922, leaving far behind Bobby Knight’s previous record of 902.

But this month, the long-time coach received what he considers to be the top honor of his career: being named one of 12 finalists for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

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“It’s easily the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me and my family,” said Magee Thursday as he sat along on the sideline of his namesake court. “It’s the epitome of what basketball is all about.”

Still, strangely enough, Magee didn’t get a call from anyone announcing his status as a possible Hall of Famer. Instead, it was his daughter who broke the news as she read him the names of the other finalists from an online post.

“First name came up, second name came up, Maurice Cheeks came up from the Philadelphia 76ers and then she started screaming,” said Magee. “So I kind of figured I guess that’s me.”

Corey Francisco, the Rams’ starting small forward and team captain, said the news didn’t come as a surprise to anyone on his squad.

Magee’s track record on the court is certainly notable, he said, but his personality off the court is also what makes him a coach of Hall of Fame caliber. 

“He’s a great person. When we go into his office he is always asking about our academics. It’s not always just about basketball. It’s about family. He’s always looking out for us,” said Francisco.

When asked about his coach’s chances, Francisco didn’t hesitate for a second.

“He’ll definitely get in,” he said. “He’s got to get in.”

Magee said he would certainly be disappointed if he wasn’t selected, but not devastated.

“Because “A”, you always have another chance and “B”, to be named a finalist has really been a great honor. I’m really proud of it,” he said.

Magee and the Philadelphia University family will have to wait until Apr. 4 to find out if their beloved coach makes the final cut.

For now, the team is focused on the first round of the NCAA Division II playoffs which begin Tuesday.

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