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Steve Matthies

Steve Matthies

Danny Miles called the weekend unbelievable, first class and an absolute thrill.

Supported by a cast of more than three dozen, including family, friends and colleagues, the long-time Oregon Tech men’s basketball coach received one of the top honors of a 45-year coaching career — induction into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in Kansas City, Mo.

Miles stayed busy throughout the weekend.

Following a Sunday breakfast, Miles was asked to give a post-clinic talk after a series of former professional coaches had spent time with about 100 young players.

Then came a tour of the Hall of Fame at the Sprint Center, during which all eight members of the Class of 2018 and their families were able to see the facility which would, soon, have their individual plaques at what Miles called a beautiful complex.

“What was neat is that there are several interactive parts (to the Hall of Fame, which allows visitors to select a person and learn about his or her involvement with the game of basketball),” Miles said.

Accompanied by his wife, Judie, Miles entered the facility for the actual induction ceremony with red-carpet treatment.

“The induction itself was done nicely,” he said.

Miles and the University of Charleton’s John Kress, the other coach inducted Nov. 18, were the first two added to the Hall of Fame this year.

Each was asked a few of questions by CBS basketball guru Clark Kellogg, along with Doug Gottlieb, that after each had received his gold medal from Reggie Minton, vice president of the Hall of Fame. During the first round of games at the Hall of Fame Classic, each was asked questions during breaks in the action.

Making the weekend especially meaningful for Miles was that all five of his and Judie’s children were present, along with eight grandchildren, administrators past (Chris Maples and Mike Schell), administrators current (Nagi Naganathan, John VanDyke and Erin Foley), long-time assistant coach Mike Pisan and his wife Marsha, and a fans.

Also present was Rick Todd, an executive vice president with Herschend Family Entertainment, who was Oregon Tech’s long-time sponsor when the Hustlin’ Owls played in their national tournament in Branson, Mo.

“It was a really neat thing that way,” Miles said.

Reports were that the Miles delegation, as a whole, was the single largest among the eight inductees.

While in Kansas City, Miles and some family members had the chance to the visit the Negro Leagues Baseball Hall of Fame.

“The curator was as good as any I’ve ever seen,” Miles said.

Miles noted he had served as a bat boy for the Kansas City Monarchs, possibly the most fabled of all the old Negro League teams, when they were on tour in Medford, and shared stories about Satchel Paige, Cool Papa Bell and the incomparable Goose Tatum.

Tatum, one of the greatest all-around athletes from the United States, reached a major level of fame as a member of the Harlem Globetrotters, who now are owned by Herschend Family Entertainment. “I really enjoyed watching Goose Tatum play first base,” Miles said.

Few people know Tatum also was a standout baseball player, something Miles would know since he was a standout both at Medford High School and Southern Oregon University.

“The whole thing was unbelievable and we had a great time. It was an absolute thrill, and it is great to be able to share it was so many people, players, coaches, fans,” the affable Miles said.

“The Hall of Fame was a real surprise and is among the greatest honors I have had,” Miles said, and noted two other especially meaningful awards — the NAIA Champion of Character Award and the Athletes in Action John Wooden Keys to Life Award.

The NAIA only recognizes one coach each year, all schools and all sports, with its overall Champion of Character Award.

The Athletes in Action award is given annually to just one person in the world of basketball to recognize his/her commitment to their school, team and faith.

Miles said he hoped his induction will open the College Basketball Hall of Fame to more coaches from small colleges, which needs to happen.

About the only honor left for Miles is to be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., and no individual coach or player who spent his entire career at the NAIA level, ever has been inducted.

We only can hope Miles break the mold, again.

Steve Matthies is Herald and News sports editor. He can be reached at 541-885-4411, or at smatthies@heraldandnews.com.