Friday, January 27, 2017

Riley Wallace, Jim Leahey, Tony Davis in Circle of Honor

Three characters with character have been inducted into the University of Hawaii’s Sports Circle of Honor.

Riley Wallace, the winningest head coach in UH men’s basketball history, sportscaster Jim Leahey, and former basketball standout Tony Davis will be celebrated at an enshrinement ceremony during the Rainbow Warriors’ basketball game on Feb. 25 in the Stan Sheriff Center.

This is the Circle’s 34th class. Each inductee will have a plaque with his image displayed in the SSC.

Wallace was 334-265 in 20 seasons as UH head coach, including three appearances in the NCAA Tournament and six in the National Invitation Tournament.

Wallace is an enigma whose brash coaching style belies his off-the-court kindness. He is known for prolifically tossing jackets and picking up dinner tabs. He coached three All-Americans and three academic All-Americans, but also gave chances to a high school dropout and many with hard-scrabble backgrounds. “Old Yeller” is his description and favorite movie.

Stan Sheriff, the late UH athletic director, was heralded for his behind-the-scene lobbying for an on-campus arena that eventually would bear his name. But it was Wallace who was the frontman, persistently — and loudly — promoting the need for a seating capacity of more than 4,000. The SSC has a seating capacity of 10,300.

Wallace and his wife own a condo in Honolulu and a house in Las Vegas, where he is an executive host for Boyd Gaming properties.

For more than 40 years, Leahey, the second of a family trilogy of sportscasters, has been the narrator of UH telecasts and broadcasts.

Leahey became the television voice for UH sports, working for KGMB and then KFVE and OC Sports. As play-by-play announcer, Leahey eloquently called UH’s greatest, worst and mundane performances, blending anecdotes with vivid descriptions. Sometimes he would step away from the mic, allowing the images and the crowd’s reaction to provide the portrayal. Leahey’s father, Chuck, is enshrined in the Circle of Honor, and his son, Kanoa, is a popular OC Sports play-by-play announcer for UH sports.

Davis enrolled at UH in the late 1950s. He set the program’s single-game scoring record with 45 points against Los Angeles State on Feb. 5, 1959. Davis was the program’s first NBA draft selection, picked by the New York Knicks in the ninth round in 1960. He then played for the Harlem Clowns and Harlem Travelers, had a pro-ball stint in Europe, and worked briefly as an actor before settling in San Francisco. He continues to be involved in basketball, having won 25 gold medals and a bronze in the Senior National Games.

[2/25/17] a look at the three inductees

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