Jimmy Collins Special Awards 2012While there are many different categories of award-winners, some years the committee finds that there are people deserving of recognition, who do not necessarily fit into one specific category. For that reason, the Committee presents Special Awards to outstanding individuals and teams.
Bo McCalebb and J. T. Curtis – two men who made history in two different sports on two vastly different points of the globe – are being recognized with Special Awards this evening.
McCalebb, a former UNO basketball star, made major headlines as a player in Europe while Curtis brought national attention to the prominence of Louisiana high school football as a coach in River Ridge, La.
They had different roles as well; McCalebb as a player in Italy and Macedonia, Curtis as a coach in River Ridge, La.
McCalebb was the leading scorer in the Euro League, the top league outside the NBA, playing for the Montepaschi Siena team in Italy. Curtis became the second coach in the history of football – college, prep or professional – to win 500 games in a career, all at John Curtis Christian High School.
A graduate of O. Perry Walker High School, McCalebb led his professional team to repeat as the champions of both the Italian Super Cup (preseason competition) and the Italian Cup (regular season) in 2011-12. He took Montepaschi Siena to a quarterfinal appearance in the EuroLeague, averaging 16.77 points per game.
He helped his national team, Macedonia, to its first-ever quarterfinal spot in the FIBA European Championship and into the 2012 London Summer Olympic Qualifying Tournament in July. A national hero in Macedonia, McCalebb was the FIBA Europe Fan’s Choice as the Player of the Year in 2011. He was the only non-NBA player named to the 2011 FIBA European Championship All-Tournament Team.
McCaleb is UNO’s all-time leading scorer with 2,679 points, second-most in Louisiana Division I basketball history, trailing only “Pistol” Pete Maravich.
Curtis, in his 43rd season as head coach, notched his 500th win in the midst of a perfect 14-0 season en route to a state-record 24th state championship in 2011. His teams have reached the title game 16 straight seasons, going 12-4 in that stretch.
Now 65 years old, Curtis has seen his team win 89.9 percent of their games; a record of 506 wins, 54 losses and 6 ties. His teams have reached the state playoffs for 37 consecutive seasons and have won titles in three different classifications. The 2011 season marked his 12th perfect season and 18th team that was undefeated during the regular season.
Curtis serves as headmaster of the school owned by his family, has nine grandchildren, and recently became an ordained minister.
Story submitted by Bill Curl of the Greater New Orleans Sports Selection Committee.