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Herb Magee Set To Answer Hall’s Call

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Philadelphia University basketball coach Herb Magee file photo from April 5, 2011 (credit: by Mike DeNardo).

Philadelphia University basketball coach Herb Magee file photo from April 5, 2011 (credit: by Mike DeNardo).

Matt Leon Matt Leon
Coming on board at KYW was a homecoming for Matt Leon. Born and raised...
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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Herb Magee has had more than his fair share of special moments during an incredible career at Philadelphia University, but it’s probably safe to say that his enshrinement into the Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday night will be at the top of the list.

Magee is one of 10 individuals in the 2011 Hall class, and the NCAA’s all-time coaching win leader (922) for all divisions says he is humbled by the honor and company he now gets to keep.

“This is someone deciding through a vote whether or not you belong in the most prestigious thing you can be in as an athlete. When you talk about the Hall of Fame, they always will mention that for the rest of time when they mention my name – they’ll say, ‘Herb Magee – Hall of Fame.’ They’ll mention, ‘Tom Gola – Hall of Fame, Paul Arizin
– Hall of Fame, Jack Ramsey – Hall of Fame.’ And now my name along with it? It really takes you back.”

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Magee has been a basketball junkie since his childhood in Philadelphia, and he remembers the humbler basketball goals of his youth.

“The only thing I ever really wanted to do with basketball was make the team at West Catholic. If you made the team at West Catholic and you were from West Philly, you were a player. And all you want to be known as on the playgrounds and in the summer league was as a player. People would recognize you if you were on the team at West
Catholic.”

Of course he made the team and then excelled at West Catholic. Magee then arrived at Philadelphia University (then Philadelphia Textile) in 1959 and never left. He was a star player, then an assistant coach. He took over the program in 1967 and the rest is history. Needless to say, when he showed up on campus he could never imagine the
path his career would take.

“Never. Nobody ever could at that age, nobody ever says at that age – or any age – ‘You know I’m thinking about the Hall of Fame.’ Never really occurred to me until I started getting introduced by some friends at different functions and different affairs as a potential Hall of Famer, and it sunk it a little bit. And then when it finally happened, it was almost surreal, ‘Is this really happening to me?’ Just to be nominated was a huge honor. And now for this to happen, it’s just incredible.”

Along with Magee’s family, a Philadelphia University contingent has made its way up to Springfield to share in this achievement. Athletic director Tom Shirley says it didn’t take long upon arriving at the Hall of Fame for the magnitude of the honor to hit him.

“When I looked into the court where (Thursday’s Hall of Fame) press conference was held, the first picture you see is (the inventor of basketball) James Naismith. And then you wrap your head around the room, and of course the Class of 2011 and you see Herb
Magee, and you’re like, ‘Wow. This is the pinnacle of success.”

Jimmy Reilly is one of Magee’s assistant coaches and he says watching Magee with the likes of Chris Mullin and Dennis Rodman, is really something special.

“Not only am I an assistant coach, but Coach Magee is a friend of mine. He’s a father figure, a guy that I go to for advice. So to see someone that you are close with go into the Hall of Fame, it’s a pretty cool moment.”

Magee will be presented at the enshrinement ceremonies by another Philadelphia coaching legend, Dr. Jack Ramsey, who was enshrined in the Hall in 1992.

“Someone said you need to get somebody to present you,” Magee says. “The very first name that came into my head was Jack Ramsay. Because growing up in Philadelphia, what everybody wanted to do was play for Jack Ramsay (at St. Joseph’s University) and I was among them. And when I see him, I’ll tell him, ‘Jack, I’m sorry you didn’t recruit me, but things worked out pretty good for me.”

Click below to listen to Matt Leon’s interview with Tom Shirley…

Click here to listen to Matt Leon’s interview with Jimmy Reilly…

Reported by Matt Leon, KYW Newsradio

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