Guy Lewis Tapped for Hall of Fame
By Deborah Burkett
A storied career was recognized recently when 91year old Guy Lewis was selected to the Basketball Hall of Fame. Named national coach of the year in 1968 and 1983, Lewis finished his career at the University of Houston with a 592-279 record. His teams reached the NCAA tournament 14 times, made five Final Four appearances ( three in a row) and led the Cougars to 27 straight winning seasons from 1959-85.
His legacy includes organizing the "Game of the Century" at the Astrodome in 1968 between Houston and UCLA. It was the first regular-season game to be broadcast on national television. Houston defeated the Bruins in front of a crowd of more than 52,000; at that time the largest ever to watch an indoor basketball game.
Lewis helped advance integration of college basketball by recruiting African Americans, Elvin Hayes and Don Chaney, to Houston.
"Phi Slama Jama" coined by a Houston Post sportswriter referred to "Texas Tallest Fraternity" coached by Guy Lewis which featured players Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler who slam dunked their way to victory.
Born March 19, 1922, in Arp, Texas, Guy excelled in high school sports. After serving in the Air Force during World War II, he became a star basketball player at the University of Houston. This small town icon is remembered by three Troup Tigers who played the game of basketball in the 1950s-a time when uniforms were short and hair was too! They were Troup District Champs, 1953; one, Dean Ray Evans, would go on to play for Coach Lewis.
Evans shared, "I played two years at Lon Morris College for Coach O.P. Adams. After a pretty good season my sophomore year, Coach Adams got a call from Guy Lewis asking if I was available…"
Evans played on the first UH team Lewis led as head coach and remembers, "Guy was special, just had a knack for leadership, very personable, easy to talk to…" Coach Lewis became a lifelong mentor, instrumental in Evans' future career as teacher/coach.
Ray 'Red' Langston, Troup Tiger to the core, shared a story which illustrates Lewis' affability… Elvin Hayes, Player of the Year 1968, was originally from a small town in Louisiana. A reporter once asked, "Coach Lewis, tell us something about Rayville… what's it like where Elvin's from…" Guy responded, "Well, it's a little bit smaller than Arp but not quite as big as Troup..." We can only image the reporter scratching his head at that retort!
Consensus is this hall of fame honor was a long overdue. John Tucker, Troup alum shared, "Whenever mention is made of Lewis' accomplishments they never highlight…UH held Oscar Robertson to the lowest points he ever scored in one game during his college career!…" Quite a feat when you consider that in each of his 3 years, Oscar won the national scoring title.
Yes, a long time coming but a well deserved honor…Congratulations to Guy Vernon Lewis, a small-town boy who made good.
- University of Houston: Coach Guy Lewis and player Dean Ray Evans
- 1953 Troup Tiger District Champs