Celebrating Basketball Excellence: BIG EAST Legends Recognition Program

Celebrating Basketball Excellence: BIG EAST Legends Recognition Program

The BIG EAST Conference has announced its inaugural BIG EAST Basketball Legends Recognition Program, honoring outstanding players and coaches who have left an indelible mark on the conference’s storied history. Among the distinguished individuals to be celebrated is Chris Smith, a pivotal figure in the rise of UConn men’s basketball.

About Chris Smith

  • Early Career: Chris Smith, a standout 6-2 guard hailing from Kolbe Cathedral in Bridgeport, played for UConn from 1988 to 1992.
  • Record-Breaking Achievements: Smith holds the distinction of being UConn’s all-time leading scorer, with an impressive 2,145 points. He also holds the record for the most points scored in BIG EAST play, totaling 1,140 points.
  • On-Court Success: Smith led UConn to its first BIG EAST regular season and tournament titles in 1989-90, earning the Huskies their first NCAA Tournament bid in over a decade. He played a pivotal role in guiding the team to the Elite Eight, marking the beginning of a successful NCAA Tournament streak for UConn.
  • Accolades: Throughout his career, Smith garnered numerous accolades, including three-time all-conference selections and an NCAA East Regional all-tournament pick in 1990. He was also named to UConn’s All-Century Team by fans in 2001 and is honored as a charter member of the Huskies of Honor.
  • Legacy: Smith’s jersey number, 13, hangs in Gampel Pavilion, a testament to his lasting impact on UConn basketball.

The Inaugural Class: BIG EAST

Alongside Chris Smith, the inaugural class of BIG EAST Men’s Basketball Legends includes prominent figures from each of the conference’s member schools:

  1. Butler: Shelvin Mack (2008-2011)
  2. Creighton: Randy Eccker (1974-1978)
  3. DePaul: Wilson Chandler (2005-2007)
  4. Georgetown: Reggie Williams (1983-1987)
  5. Marquette: Jerel McNeal (2005-2009)
  6. Providence: Ernie DiGregorio (1969-1973)
  7. St. John’s: Marcus Hatten (2001-2003)
  8. Seton Hall: Terry Dehere (1989-1993)
  9. Villanova: Randy Foye (2002-2006)
  10. Xavier: J.P. Macura (2014-2018)

Excitement Surrounding the Program

BIG EAST Commissioner Val Ackerman expressed enthusiasm about the program, highlighting its significance in honoring the remarkable contributions of these basketball luminaries. The first group of BIG EAST Legends comprises trailblazers and modern-day stars, all of whom have left an indelible imprint on the conference’s rich basketball legacy. As the tournament festivities approach, the conference looks forward to celebrating these legends and their enduring impact on the game.

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