Most people remember Hugh Evans as an NBA official. After all, he was an official for 28 years. That’s a long time yet he honed his skills and became one of the best of all-time.
He was to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Class of 2022. That event will be held on September 9-10 in Springfield Massachusetts.
Sadly, Hugh Evans passed away on July 8th at the age of 81.
Along the way, he chronicled an impressive list of accomplishments. He was an official in 170 play-off games, 35 NBA Finals and 4 NBA All-Star games.
Let’s not forget that during his illustrious career, he officiated almost 2,000 regular season games. Those statistics are impressive by any barometer or metric that you can use. It is without quibble or question that he left his footprint on the National Basketball Association.
Upon hearing of his passing, comments came in from around the basketball world. He was well respected by his colleagues, and he sure had a lot of them.
“The Basketball Hall of Fame Family mourns the loss and celebrates the life of Hugh Evans,” said John Doleva, president and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame. He added, “The game is in a better place for having had him involved as an Official and later as a Supervisor of Officials for 30 years.”
NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver said, “The NBA mourns the loss of Hugh Evans, one of the league’s most accomplished referees and a 2022 Basketball Hall of Fame inductee.”
It is my hope the NBA will honor him in some permanent way as he is the most deserving of this recognition.
Hugh Evans is a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University located in Greensboro NC. Back in the day it was A&T (Agricultural and Technical) College of North Carolina or A&T as we called it.
I was born in Winston-Salem NC, a stone’s throw from Greensboro. It is with pride that I say I have been on the A&T campus and the Winston-Salem State University (then Teachers College) on numerous occasions.
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You see, I watched Hugh Evans play basketball at A&T College. He played there during the years 1959-63. Both A&T and TC were original members of the CIAA (Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association). It is the oldest African American athletic conference in the United States of America.
The basketball contests involving these two schools were epic. They had legendary players and coaches. Of course, Hugh Evans was a lights-out guard. He was a scoring machine.
On the side for TC, you had players like Louis “Left Hand” Parker and Richard Glover. A&T had its legendary coach, Cal Irvin and TC had its legendary coach, Clarence “Bighouse” Gaines. Going to those games was like going to basketball heaven. You had to get there early to get a seat. The gyms whether in Greensboro or Winston-Salem were packed.
Young and old and mostly Black enjoyed every moment of this basketball rivalry. The games were always the talk of the town.
One of the questions was always, how many did Hugh Evans score?
My school buddies, Teddy Allen, William Earl, Bishop Graham and I yelled and screamed. We were exhausted when we got home.
We also got to see Hugh Evans and others play in the CIAA Tournament. For many years, it was held at the Winston-Salem Memorial Coliseum.
HBCUs called Black Colleges or Black Schools then came there for a virtual basketball buffet. All the Black Colleges in North Carolina and most of them in Virginia were there. Howard University in Washington DC was also there.
Hugh Evans was drafted in the 12th round of the 1963 NBA Draft yet decided to play professional baseball instead.
I will never forget the unfiltered excitement that I had watching him play basketball at A&T and later the pride I felt in watching him as an official in the National Basketball Association.