COLUMBUS – Eighteen outstanding athletes, coaches and contributors will enter the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame this summer, along with three outstanding high school state championship teams. The 2023 Class will be enshrined on June 10 in Columbus. The ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. at the Hilton Polaris, 8700 Lyra Dr, Columbus, Ohio 43240.
This year’s class showcases the impact 2016 Inductee Charlie Huggins has had on basketball in Ohio. His assistant coach at Berlin Hiland, the late Perry Reese Jr., enters the Hall, as does his 1967 state champion Strasburg Tigers team.
Class of 2023
The following 18 individuals will be inducted into the Class of 2023:
- Andra Bell coached the girls basketball team at Upper Sandusky high school for 34 years, leading them to dozens of league, sectional and district titles as well as three regional titles and three OSHAA Final Four appearances. She was named the Ohio Coach of the Year in 1983, 1996 and 2002.
- Jim Brewer is this year’s Cleveland Cavaliers direct-elect inductee and was the second overall pick in the 1973 NBA draft. He went on to play nine seasons in the NBA, from 1973-1982.
- Norris Cole launched his career at Dayton Dunbar High School and went on to have tremendous success at Cleveland State University. He was a first-round NBA draft pick and contributed to the Miami Heat’s 2012 & 2013 NBA championships.
- Gale Daugherty spent 20 years coaching the men’s team at Ohio Northern University and is their all-time winningest coach with a stellar record of 310-218.
- Joe DeRosa is one of only two people to have officiated both the NBA Finals and the NCAA Men’s Final Four. The North Canton native spent 22 years officiating in the NBA before moving to the NCAA.
- Geno Ford still ranks as the fourth all-time leading scorer in Ohio high school history, scoring 2,680 points while playing for his father, Gene Ford, at Cambridge High School. He went on to Ohio University, where he was their leading scorer his junior and senior years and has spent his career coaching at the collegiate level.
- Amber Gray was a standout at Lakota West High School and was named “Ms. Basketball” and the state Player of the Year in 2008. When health issues while at University of Tennessee sent her back to Cincinnati for rehab, she returned to the court for two more years at Xavier, earning All-Atlantic 10 honors.
- Erica Hayes Zinn made her mark at Vinton County High School as the most storied athlete in school history and went on to break 11 school records at Shawnee State University. She was named the NAIA Player of the Year and First Team All-American in 1998-99.
- Don Knodel had three head-turning seasons at Miami University in the early 1950s, and was the second-leading scorer his junior and senior seasons. He devoted his career to coaching and his early success as a high school coach catapulted him to great success as the head coach at Rice University.
- Nikita Lowry Dawkins led the Big Ten in scoring in both her junior and senior years at Ohio State, helping lead the university to four NCAA tournament appearances and three Big Ten titles.
- John Milhoan remains one of the all-time best players from southern Ohio. The Gallipolis native set scoring and rebounding records at Gallia Academy High School before heading to Marshall University, where, as a sophomore, he made 63 of 69 free-throw attempts for a 91.3 percent rate that still stands as the best single-season mark today.
- Mike Phillips was a prolific scorer and rebounder at every level, leading Akron Manchester to the state title in 1974 and a perfect 26-0 season. At the University of Kentucky, he was one-half of the “Twin Towers” along with Rick Robey that claimed the 1978 NCAA national championship. He enters the Hall posthumously, having died unexpectedly in 2015.
- Perry Reese, Jr. landed in Berlin, Ohio, as Charlie Huggins’ assistant coach in 1983, an African-American Catholic man in the heart of Amish country. He overcame racial and religious barriers to lead the Hiland Hawks for 16 seasons. The team had a 304-85 record, won 11 conference championships, made five state tournament appearances and won a state championship in 1992. He enters the Hall posthumously; he died in 2000 at age 48.
- Tom Rettig coached high school basketball for over 52 years, with 23 very successful years as the girls head coach at Tipp City High School. He led them to two OHSAA state tournament appearances including the 1986 state final.
- Bill Szabo averaged 30 points per game his entire high school career at Oberlin Firelands High School. He went on to Defiance College where he amassed 1,490 points in four years. His career average of 24.4 ppg still ranks best in school history, he’s the first player in program history ever to be named National Player of the Week, and he was a two-time Defiance College Athlete of the Year.
- Robin Tucker paved the way for future female athletes – as an Ohio State captain, she was in the first class of women to receive an athletic scholarship and was the first woman from Ohio to play professional basketball.
- Cleo “Chico” Vaughn was a stunning three-sport athlete who helped break the basketball color barrier by becoming the first African American to both play for the Ohio State varsity and letter for the Buckeyes. After a pro baseball career and time working for Ebony magazine, he settled in Toledo and founded the Cleo Vaughn Sports Group, which offered free basketball camps, clinics and life skills to kids, positively influencing thousands of youth. He enters the Hall posthumously; he died in 2010 at the age of 77.
- Al Vilcheck was a high school superstar at Euclid High School and continued to produce at a high level at the University of Louisville. He went on to score more than 1,000 points at UL and was selected in the 10th round of the NBA draft by the Phoenix Suns, but opted to play professionally in Belgium.
Three teams will also be recognized for their achievements: The 1967 Strasburg High School boys state champions, coached by 2016 Inductee Charlie Huggins, and the 1982 & 1983 Zanesville Bishop Rosecrans High School girls state champions, coached by Dave Bell.
“We’re excited to celebrate another class of tremendous athletes, coaches and contributors in 2023,” said Executive Director Sheila Fox. “We rely on our champions and fans to support us financially and remind us of the greatest players and coaches from their communities that have made their mark on Ohio basketball. We’re working to preserve this fascinating history for future generations.”
To purchase tickets, read the official bios of each inductee and for more information, visit the Ceremony section of our website.
Background: Founded in 2005, the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame recognizes the remarkable achievements of both male and female athletes across high school, college, and professional basketball – along with phenomenal coaches and individuals who’ve impacted the game along the way. Together with a dedicated collection of coaches and basketball enthusiasts, Doc Daugherty and the late Don Henderson led the charge to establish the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame with a mission of preserving legacies, celebrating greatness, and honoring excellence. Our annual Induction Ceremony, hosted in Columbus, celebrates basketball and its rich legacy. The list of charter members of the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame reads like a Who’s Who of some of the sport’s most recognizable figures – Wayne Embry, Jerry Lucas, Katie Smith, Jimmy Jackson, Oscar Robertson, Clark Kellogg, Bill Hosket Jr., Fred Taylor, Paul Walker, Jay Burson, John Havlicek, Bob Knight, Nate Thurmond, et al.