Five Star Athletes to be Inducted Into Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame park
Five star athletes will be added to the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame at the annual banquet to be held on Saturday, Aug. 2, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee, sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl, selects each year’s Hall of Fame class, as well as annual award winners in a variety of categories and Amateur Athletes of the Month throughout the year. Overall, 27 individuals and three teams will be honored at this year’s banquet. The Corbett Awards, which recognize the top male and female amateur athletes in the state, will be announced tomorrow (Wednesday). Seven other annual awards were announced on Monday.
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame, Class of 2014
Hal Cervini (Basketball: St. Aloysius HS, Tulane University, 1946-55)
Avery Johnson (Basketball: St. Augustine HS, Southern University, NBA, 1980-2004)
Kerry Kittles (Basketball: St. Augustine HS, Villanova University, NBA, 1990-2005)
Anna Koll (Multi-Sport: Wiltz Girls Athletic Club, 1923-40)
Lionel Washington (Football: Lutcher HS, Tulane University, NFL, 1976-97)
Hal Cervini – St. Aloysius HS/Tulane University
A four-year all-city selection and a three-time all-state selection (1949-51) at St. Aloysius High School under legendary coach John Altobello, Harold Cervini moved on to Tulane University where he was a four-year letterman and captain of the Tulane basketball team, making the All-Southeastern Conference teams in 1954 and 1955. Considered one of the best point guards and ball handlers in the nation, he broke numerous records at Tulane and still holds eight records for the Green Wave. Cervini was drafted after both his junior and senior seasons by the NBA, but he was also drafted by the U.S. Army. During his time in the Army, Cervini played all over Europe and was selected to the Army’s All World Team. Upon his return to New Orleans, he coached basketball and baseball and spent 26 years with the New Orleans Recreational Department.
Avery Johnson – St. Augustine HS/Southern University/NBA
Johnson established himself as a champion for the first time in 1983, leading St. Augustine to an undefeated season and the Class 4A state title. He went on to junior college and then stardom at Southern University, leading the nation with an NCAA-record 13.3 assists per game as a senior. Despite being undrafted, Johnson went on to a 16-year NBA career that was highlighted by spending all or part of 10 seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, where he became known as the “Little General.” He was the starting point guard for Spurs’ in 1998-99, hitting the championship-clinching shot in Game 5 of NBA Finals against the New York Knicks as the Spurs earned their first NBA title. For his career, Johnson handed out 5,846 assists and ranked in the league’s top 10 in assists three times. His jersey No. 6 was retired by the Spurs in 2007.
Kerry Kittles – St. Augustine HS/Villanova University/NBA
After leading St. Augustine to a 66-5 record in his final two seasons (1989-91), the highly-coveted Kittles chose to attend Villanova, where he continued his high-scoring ways. The 6-6 guard scored a school record 2,243 career points and was a second-team All-American and the Big East Player of the Year as a junior in 1995 and a first-team All-American as a senior in 1996. He led the Wildcats to their first Big East Tournament title as a junior. The No. 8 selection in the 1996 NBA Draft by the New Jersey Nets, he played eight seasons in the NBA (1996-2005). In his rookie season, he hit 158 three-pointers, an NBA rookie record at the time. In addition to being a key player on two New Jersey Nets squads that reached the NBA Finals, he averaged over 13.6 points per game in all but his final season, when injuries forced him to retire.
Anna Koll – Wiltz Athletic Club
Described as New Orleans’ “Greatest All-Around Girl Athlete” in the 1930s by The Times-Picayune, Koll won the Southern women’s tennis championship twice, the Louisiana women’s title several times and state titles in Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. She set Southern AAU records in the 80-meter high hurdles (13.0) and the broad jump (15-11) along with the 50-yard dash and 120-yard hurdles. She was part of the New Orleans team which won the Southern AAU championship for four straight years (1926-29) and in each year she competed, she won at least one individual title. She helped the Wiltz gymnasium win the AAU indoor baseball title three straight years, leading the league in batting each season. She also played on the Wiltz basketball team and made the All-Star Team three straight years. Considered a Louisiana version of versatile female Olympian Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Koll died in 1988 at the age of 83.
Lionel Washington – Lutcher HS/Tulane University/NFL
A standout athlete in a wide-range of sports growing up, Washington turned into a star cornerback at Lutcher High School. While his lack of size kept many collegiate programs away, Washington was snatched up by Tulane University and he was a four-year letterman and a three-year starting cornerback for the Green Wave, racking up 192 tackles, six tackles for loss and eight interceptions. After entering the NFL in 1983 as a fourth-round choice of the then-St. Louis Cardinals, he went on to a 15-year NFL career, one of the longest playing careers for a defensive back in pro football history. Washington played in 205 NFL games with 165 starts and recorded 37 interceptions, returning four for touchdowns.
The Greater New Orleans Sports Selection Committee began in 1958 when James Collins spearheaded a group of sports journalists to form a sports awards committee to immortalize local sports history. For 12 years, the committee honored local athletes each month. In 1970, the Sugar Bowl stepped in to sponsor and revitalize the committee, leading to the creation of the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame in 1971, honoring 10 legends from the Crescent City in its first induction class. While adding the responsibility of selecting Hall of Famers, the committee has continued to recognize the top amateur athlete in the Greater New Orleans area each month – the honors enter their 56th year in 2014. To be eligible, an athlete must be a native of the greater New Orleans area or must compete for a team in the metropolitan region.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the premier bowl games in the country, having hosted 23 national champions, 86 Hall of Fame players, 46 Hall of Fame coaches and 15 Heisman Trophy winners in its 80-year history. The upcoming Allstate Sugar Bowl Football Classic on January 1, 2015 will also serve as a College Football Playoff Semifinal, one of the first semifinal games in the new college football postseason format. In addition to football, the Sugar Bowl Committee is involved with various community initiatives through hosting and sponsorships of sporting events, awards and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors over 13,000 student-athletes each year, while injecting over $2 billion into the local economy in the last decade.