Men’s hoops to be honored at FABC “Court of Legends”
Otis Smith
Otis Smith
The JU men’s basketball program will have three inducted into the Florida Association of Basketball Coaches “Court of Legends” Sept. 23 in Lakeland, Fla.

JU hall of famers Artis Gilmore and Otis Smith will represent the Dolphins player side into the fourth induction class. Gilmore’s 1969-70 team will also be inducted.

Gilmore, the most accomplished athlete in JU history, was a two-time All-America honoree in 1969-70 and 1970-71 after leading the nation in rebounding each year. He finished his career with 1,312 points (24.3 average) and 1,224 rebounds (22.7).

Gilmore is also the NCAA career record holder with 22.7 rebounds per game. He still holds eight JU single-season or career records. Additionally, Gilmore was listed 38th on the Street & Smith's 100 Greatest College Basketball Players. Gilmore was named 1971 Consensus National Player of the Year.

After his time at JU, Gilmore enjoyed an 18-year career with the American Basketball Association (ABA) and National Basketball Association (NBA).

Gilmore still holds the ABA single-season blocked shots record with 422 while also holding the ABA all-time honors for rebounds per game with 40. In the NBA record books, he is the all-time leader in field-goal percentage (.559). Gilmore is the third-highest shot blocker in professional basketball history with 3,178 swats and is the fourth-highest in rebounds with 16,330.

In the summer of 2011, Gilmore received a long overdue honor by being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the Florida, Kentucky and Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. Gilmore’s No. 53 jersey is retired at JU and Gardner Webb.

A graduate of Jacksonville’s Forrest High School, Smith played for the Dolphins from 1982-86 and finished his career fifth all-time points (1,715) and fourth in rebounds (911).

Smith received three Basketball Weekly and Basketball Times Honorable Mention All-America accolades along with an AP and The Sporting News Honorable Mention All-America honors in 1984 and 1986. He was the 1986 Sun Belt Tournament MVP after helping the Dolphins win the Sun Belt title and earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

As a professional, he was taken in the second round of the 1986 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets. He spent six seasons in the NBA playing with Denver (1986-87, 87), Golden State (1987-89) and Orlando (1989-92).

Following his playing career, Smith served as community relations manager for the Magic for two years. He spent the 2002-03 season as executive director for basketball operations with the Golden State Warriors and returned to the Magic as the director of player development. He was the General Manager for the Magic from 2006-12.

The 1969-70 JU team, coached by Joe Williams, complied a program-best 27-2 record in becoming the first team in NCAA history to average 100 points a contest. Gilmore and the Dolphins rattled off an 11-game winning streak to end the season to earn the program’s first NCAA tournament berth.

After edging Iowa by one point in the tournament opener, the Dolphins upset Adolf Rupp’s No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats to earn a spot into the Final Four. JU beat St. Bonaventure to reach the national championship, but fell to John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins.

Despite the loss, the Dolphins are one of the smallest school ever nationally to make the Final Four and play for the national championship.

Along with Gilmore the squad included Rex Morgan, Vaughn Wedeking, Pembrook Burrows, Greg Nelson, Chip Dublin, Rod McIntyre, Mike Blevins, Rusty Baldwin, Don Hawkins, Curtis Kruer and Ken Selke.

Tickets for the awards ceremony, which is open to the public, can be reserved by emailing by Wednesday, Sept. 19 listing the names of individuals requesting tickets.

The cost for the dinner event is $20 payable at the door through an RSVP. The Court honors girls and boys basketball coaches, players, teams and officials that have excelled in their sport. Fans can see the website above.