When Bucky Bockhorn learned he would be inducted into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame, he was puzzled.
Bockhorn had been an outstanding player at the University of Dayton but not the most celebrated on those star-studded teams of the mid-1950s.
Then it dawned on him: Must be those seven years he spent in the NBA with the Cincinnati Royals, including five as Oscar Robertson’s backcourt mate, that put him over the top.
“I was quite surprised because guys like Bill Uhl and Jim Paxson (Sr.) were the tremendous players on those (UD) teams,” said Bockhorn, an analyst on UD basketball radio broadcasts since 1969. “I’m honored, don’t get me wrong. I’m in a pretty prestigious group of people. I’m proud of being in this hall of fame — extremely proud.”
Bockhorn and 17 others — including Miami University men’s coach Charlie Coles — comprise the class to be enshrined tonight at a Columbus Convention Center dinner that’s open to the public.
Also entering the hall is the 1979-80 UD women’s basketball team, led by Ann Meyers, that won the AIAW Division II national championship.
“Just being recognized as a team that was formidable and had a lot of success is affirming,” said Meyers, UD’s career scoring leader with 2,672 points.
Five other former Flyers and two UD teams already are in the Ohio hoops shrine: Don Donoher, Tom Blackburn, Don May, Jim Paxson Jr., Don Meineke, and the 1962 and 1968 men’s NIT championship teams.
Bockhorn’s UD teams were a combined 69-17 and played in three NITs. In the NBA, he was a hard-nosed guard at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, averaging 11.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists before a knee injury curtailed his career 19 games into the 1964-65 season.
“The pro game really suited my style,” Bockhorn said. “I was not a finesse player, and it was rough and tumble. If you weren’t willing to fight, you couldn’t make the league.”
The 1979-80 UD women’s team finished 36-2, went 5-1 against Big Ten teams and won by an average of 25 points per game. Four members rank among the top six career scorers at UD.
“I don’t remember anyone caring who scored the points,” Meyers said. “Everyone on that team was incredibly selfless.”
Coles, from Yellow Springs, has coached Miami for 15 seasons, reaching four NCAA tournaments.
“As with any honor, it’s mostly a tribute to the people who have helped you,” Coles said. “My family, they’ve been very supportive of me. And Miami University gave me a second chance to be a head coach.”
A former player at Miami, Coles coached at Central Michigan from 1985-1991 and returned to Miami in 1994 to assist Herb Sendek before succeeding him.
The other former pro being honored tonight is Dick Snyder, a North Canton native who played for several NBA teams, including the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Snyder is best known to Cavs fans for making the shot that won Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Washington Bullets in 1976, during what became known as the “Miracle of Richfield” season.
Class of 2011 inductees
Joe Campoli (Ohio Northern)
Charlie Coles (Miami University)
Jean Dowell (Mount St. Joseph)
Dom Rosselli (Youngstown State)
Pam Smith (Wittenberg)
Columbus Hines (Dixie High School)
Gene Millard (Bexley HS)
Gretchen Prichard (Lima Bath HS)
Arlen “Bucky” Bockhorn (University of Dayton, Cincinnati Royals)
Dick Snyder (North Canton native, four NBA teams)
Don Otten (Bowling Green)
Mel Otten (Bowling Green)
Paul Ebert (Ohio State)
Larry Jones (Toledo)
Kim Knuth Klaer (Toledo)
Amy Prichard (Northwestern)
Scott Tedder (Ohio Wesleyan)
Joanne Ineman Fossen (Olmsted Falls High School)
Henry Zaborniak Jr. of Millersport, a high school and collegiate basketball official from 1975-92.