Saturday morning will be a special one for Purdue basketball fans. John Wooden, the legendary National Player of the Year in 1932 who went on to win 10 National Championships as a coach at UCLA will have his own statue unveiled outside Mackey Arena. The ceremony will occur at 10am Saturday morning before the football game with Nevada. Here is the release from Purdue:
Before his name became synonymous with success as head coach at UCLA, Wooden was a standout student-athlete at Purdue.
Playing for coach Ward “Piggy” Lambert, who he credited with having the biggest influence on his basketball career, Wooden was a three-time All-American and the 1932 National Player of the Year. As a senior, he averaged 12.2 points per game in leading the Boilermakers to a 17-1 record and the Big Ten Championship. Purdue was named national champions by the Helms Athletic Foundation.
At UCLA from 1948 to 1975, the master technician amassed a 620-147 record, an extraordinary .808 winning percentage. The Bruins captured 10 national championships, including seven in a row from 1966 to 1973, and 19 Pac-10 titles. They put together unfathomable winning streaks of 88 games and 38 NCAA Tournament contests.
A native of Martinsville, Indiana, Wooden is one of just three individuals enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as a player (1961) and a coach (1973), along with Bill Sharman and Lenny Wilkens.
Known for being humble and unassuming, Wooden, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 99, was held in high esteem for his impeccable moral character.
The statue is gift of alumnus Jim Hicks and was designed by Julie Rotblatt-Amrany of Highland, Illinois, portraying Wooden during his All-American playing days. Hicks, a 1961 Purdue graduate, and his wife, Neta, donated $2 million to establish the Jim and Neta Hicks Endowment for Leadership in Agriculture at the university. Part of the gift was used to fund the Wooden statue.
Behind the 7-foot bronze statue is Wooden’s legendary Pyramid of Success, a building block of character qualities.
''Not many people think of Johnny Wooden as a Boilermaker, but when I got here in 1957, some of the old-timers still remembered him as a player,'' Hicks said. ''I’m so delighted that people will see this statue and read his Pyramid of Success because I think the pyramid was his most important contribution.''
Wooden is an absolute legend in the game of basketball and one of the very few people to be inducted into the Naismith National Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player AND a coach. He is also a personal hero of mine. This is an honor well earned and I will try to get some photos tomorrow.