RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCT) — An East Carolina University legendary women’s basketball player, a Kinston basketball superstar and one of the top golfers who now calls New Bern home highlight the 2023 North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame class that was announced Tuesday.
The new members are ECU great Rosie Thompson, Kinston’s Jerry Stackhouse, New Bern’s Curtis Strange, Rick Barnes, Jason Brown, Jeff Davis, Donald Evans, Tom Fazio, Ellen Griffin, Tom Higgins, Clarkston Hines, Bob “Stonewall” Jackson, Trudi Lacey, Ronald Rogers and John Sadri.
This new induction will bring up their number of inductees to 400.
These athletes will be brought into the hall of fame on April 21 during the 59th annual Induction Celebration. It will be hosted at the Raleigh Convention Center at 7 pm. A press conference will be held at 2 pm on the same day and at the same place as the celebration.
“This year’s class joining the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame once again reflects the
great variety and rich sports heritage that the hall highlights for our state,” said Dr. Jerry
McGee, president of the hall’s Board of Directors. “This group and their collective
accomplishments in specific areas, from great athletes to highly successful coaches to
special contributors, create another exciting chapter for the hall. We are extremely excited
about honoring these outstanding individuals in our induction celebration.”
The North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame compiled a short biography for each new inductee. The inductees with an asterisk by their name are being honored posthumously.
Click here for ticket information on the event.
Rosie Thompson—More than 40 years after her women’s basketball playing career at East
Carolina University ended, Thompson still ranks as the school’s all-time leader in scoring
(2,352 points), points per game (20.8), rebounds (1,183) and rebound average (10.8). A
three-time all-NCAIAW selection, she is the only woman in ECU history to have her jersey
number retired. She played professional basketball before returning to ECU as an assistant
coach and went on to serve three years as head coach, from there moving into administration
as ECU’s senior women’s administrator (SWA). Thompson is a member of the East
Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.
Jerry Stackhouse—A native of Kinston, Stackhouse had an amazing career as a basketball
player. A Parade high school All-American, he was a consensus first-team All-American at
the University of North Carolina and earned ACC Tournament MVP honors in 1994. He
played two seasons for the Tar Heels and then was the third overall selection in the 1995
NBA draft. Stackhouse enjoyed a stellar 18-year NBA career, in which he scored 16,409
points and twice was an NBA All-Star. He is currently the head coach at Vanderbilt
University, after serving as an assistant with the Memphis Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors in
the NBA and leading a G-League team to a championship as head coach.
Curtis Strange—A native of Norfolk, VA, Strange is a golf legend, winning 17 PGA Tour
championships after a tremendous collegiate career at Wake Forest University. He was the
1974 NCAA individual champion and led Wake Forest to the team title. He twice won the
U.S. Open championship and was one of the tour’s leading players in the 1980s, leading the
PGA Tour earnings list in 1985, ’87 and ’88. Strange also played on six U.S. Ryder Cup
teams and was the captain in 2002. A member of the World Golf Hall of Fame and the
Virginia Hall of Fame, Strange shares time between North Carolina and Florida and also has
excelled as a golf commentator on television.
Rick Barnes—Hickory native and Lenoir-Rhyne University graduate Barnes has
established himself as one of the nation’s top men’s college basketball coaches. He has had
successful stints at George Mason, Providence, Clemson, Texas and currently at Tennessee,
and his career head coaching record exceeds the 750-victory mark. That includes 402 wins
at Texas from 1998 to 2015, and he is just the third coach to lead three different Division I
programs to the Sweet 16, where his teams have gone seven times. Barnes was named the
Naismith College Coach of the Year in 2019 after leading the University of Tennessee to a
school-record-tying 31 victories.
Jason Brown—A star athlete at Northern Vance High School in football and track and
field, Brown had a stellar career at the University of North Carolina, starting as a tackle and
eventually playing three years at center, where he was first-team all-ACC in 2004. He was
drafted by the Baltimore Ravens of the NFL, starting all 16 games at guard for the Ravens in
2007 and then all 16 at center the following year. He signed a five-year deal in 2009 with
the St. Louis Rams that made him the highest-paid center in the league, but he retired from
football in 2012 and became a farmer in Louisburg, maintaining First Fruits Farms, where
he grows produce and donates crops to food pantries.
Jeff Davis—Davis was the captain of Clemson University’s 1981 national championship
football team, and during that season, he was the ACC Player of the Year and a first-team
All-American. Third all-time in Clemson history in tackles, he was drafted by the Tampa
Bay Buccaneers in the NFL and played six years there, leading the team in tackles on three
different occasions and was captain of the team for four seasons. Davis started every game
in three different seasons and only missed one start in two other years. He is a member of
the Clemson, Guilford County Sports, South Carolina Athletics, and College Football halls
Donald Evans—Evans was a standout football player at Winston-Salem State University,
playing both tailback and linebacker there from 1983 to 1986, including 10 sacks in his
senior year. He was a second-round draft choice of the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams in 1987.
Although he played little in his first two pro years, he found his place by signing with the
Pittsburgh Steelers, starting in 62 of 64 games over four years for Chuck Noll and then Bill
Cowher. He closed his pro career with the Jets. Evans is a member of the Winston-Salem
State Hall of Fame and the CIAA Hall of Fame, and also was an HBCU Living Legends
honoree. His philanthropy in his post-football career has benefited several historically Black
colleges and universities (HBCUs).
Tom Fazio—Fazio is known as one of America’s top golf course architects, and during his
career, he has designed more than 200 courses, of which 46 have been ranked by Golf Digest
among its greatest 200 courses in the United States. He also has been named Best ModernDay Golf Course architect by Golf Digest three times. He began his career in course design
with his family’s firm in suburban Philadelphia, then established his own firm in Florida in
Ellen Griffin—This pioneer in women’s golf was an amazing coach and instructor, as well as helped to found the Women’s Professional Golf Association, the forerunner of the LPGA. After earning a master’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 1940, she taught the game for 28 years at her alma mater and then developed her own facility in Randleman, where she worked with amateurs and pros alike. Griffin was the 1962 LPGA Teacher of the Year and was among the first LPGA Master Professionals. She wrote golf instruction manuals and also spent time as educational director of the National Golf Association. Griffin was the first recipient of the National Golf Association’s Joe Graffis Award for service to the game.
Tom Higgins—This sports writing legend, who grew up in Burnsville, began his career
with the Canton Enterprise and Asheville Times before moving to The Charlotte Observer
in 1964 as an outdoors writer. But Higgins quickly became known for his extensive
coverage of motorsports and was one of the first full-time NASCAR beat writers, helping to
grow the sport tremendously. He retired after 33 years with The Observer but continued to
write. A multi-time National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year, he is a
member of that organization’s Hall of Fame and also received the Squier-Hall Award, the
highest media award given by the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Clarkston Hines—Hines, a Duke University football star, was a three-time first-team all-ACC selection and the ACC Player of the Year in 1989. He’s one of the most prolific wide
receivers in conference history. He was twice named first-team All-American and held 12
Duke receiving records upon graduation to go with a couple of ACC career marks in
touchdown receptions (38) and 100-yard games (18). Hines earned the ACC Male Athlete of
the Year, the McKevlin Award, in 1990. A member of the Duke Sports Hall of Fame, he
was elected in 2010 to the College Football Hall of Fame.
Bob “Stonewall” Jackson*—Jackson was a highly decorated World War II veteran who
enrolled after the war at Negro Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina (now
North Carolina A&T State University), where he became a four-time all-CIAA player as a
star linebacker. He made history when he became the first African American from a
historically Black college to be drafted by the NFL, playing for both the New York Giants
and Philadelphia Eagles. After his playing career, Jackson coached football at Johnson C.
Smith University and then spent more than 30 years as an educator and coach at North
Carolina Central University, where he taught and was an assistant football coach and
longtime athletic trainer.
Trudi Lacey—Lacey has had an amazing career as an athlete, coach and administrator.
Currently the athletic director at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, Lacey was a
four-year basketball star under legendary coach Kay Yow at N.C. State, scoring 1,957
points during her career and winning a pair of ACC regular season titles and a conference
tournament crown. Lacey has been a head coach at both the college and the professional
level, including a stint with the Washington Mystics of the WNBA as both coach and
general manager. She also has served as an assistant director for U.S.A. Women’s
Basketball and is a member of the N.C. State Athletics Hall of Fame
Ronald Rogers*—A native and lifelong resident of Leicester, Rogers was Western
Carolina’s first three-time NAIA All-American in basketball (1951, 1952, 1953). He scored
1,960 points during his Western Carolina College (now University) career, third all-time in
school history, with a career scoring average of 21.5 points per game, and was the North
State Conference’s all-time leading scorer upon graduation after earning all-conference
honors three straight years. Rogers scored in double figures in 82 straight games. He was a
charter member of the Western Carolina Hall of Fame, and his jersey number, 15, was
John Sadri—Born in Charlotte and a graduate of Myers Park High School, Sadri is one of
the top tennis players to come from North Carolina. He was an all-American at N.C. State
University, where he advanced to the NCAA singles finals in 1978, losing to John McEnroe.
He was twice ACC singles champ and also won a pair of ACC doubles crowns. Sadri was
ranked as high as 14th in the world as a professional, shortly after he had reached the finals
of the Australian Open. He won two professional singles titles and three doubles
championships, twice finishing second in doubles at the Australian Open. Sadri is a member
of the North Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame.