Sept. 13, 2011
*Written by the 'Voice of the Golden Eagles' John CoxOne of the most exciting events that are held each year at the University of Southern Mississippi is the M-Club Alumni Association Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. I have been lucky enough to have been a part of these ceremonies for over 30 years and during that time have had the opportunity to meet some of the true legends of Southern Miss athletics. The event will be held this Friday night at 6:00 P.M. at the Southern Oaks House and Gardens located at 1246 Richburg Road in Hattiesburg.
This year's Hall of Fame class includes some amazingly talented athletes who all in their own way made outstanding contributions to Southern Miss athletics. The eight individuals that will be inducted this Friday night, Sept. 16, are Adalius Thomas (1996-1999), Todd Pinkston (1996-1999), Patrick Surtain (1994-1997) and Jerry Taylor (1953-1956) for football, Darrin Chancellor (1987-1991) and Angela Atterberry-Jackson for basketball, Keith Kennedy for swimming and Chris Logan for baseball.
I have been around long enough now that I was lucky enough to watch each one of these great athletes, with the exception of Jerry Taylor, perform for Southern Miss during their careers and I am excited and anxious to see them again this week and relive some of the greatest moments in Southern Miss history.
Earlier this year, back on Aug. 10, Joe Dawson, one of the school's greatest basketball players, was inducted into the M-Club Alumni Association Sports Hall of Fame in a special ceremony. The M-Club normally requires an individual who has been elected to the Hall of Fame to attend the induction ceremonies to be officially inducted. But since graduating from Southern Miss in 1982, Dawson has spent the majority of his career overseas playing basketball and since he was elected several years ago had not been able to return to the United States for the ceremony.
Dawson was pound-for-pound, inch-for-inch, one of the greatest athletes to have ever played for Southern Miss. He was a player whose combination of heart, determination, talent and love for the game of basketball, made him something very special. He was a player that made an impact on our basketball program and our University by the way he played the game during a brilliant four-year career both on the basketball court and in the classroom from 1978 to 1982.
Dawson is fourth all-time in career points with 1,695. His field goal percentage of 58.4 percent is second in Golden Eagle history. He is one of four players in school history to pull down at least 1,000 rebounds, finishing his career with 1,069.
"Awesome" Dawson as he became known, because of his ability to dominant games, is considered by his coach at the time, M.K. Turk, as one of the two best players he coached during his 20-years at Southern Miss.
"Had he been 6-foot-eight, rather than 6-foot-three, he would have had a long and successful career in the NBA," Turk said. "He was an outstanding player and a model citizen, one that was a great role model for younger kids."
Following graduation, Dawson began a professional career that spanned 23-years and took him to six countries. He began his pro career in the Continental basketball Association, where he played for the Maine Lumberjacks and the Bay State Bombers from 1982 to 1985. Dawson was named to the all-star team all three years, placing in the top ten each year in points, rebounds, field goals, free throws and steals. In 1983-84, he finished second in the most valuable player race.
He then spent the next five years playing in France, Italy, Israel, Greece and Venezuela. Starting in 1991, he spent the following 16 years in Israel, where he scored 5,765 points and grabbed 2,539 rebounds.
"It's amazing at all the great things that have happened to Southern Miss since I finished up," Dawson told me on his first visit to the campus over 20 years. "I am so proud of Southern Miss and I look back on the years that I spent here as some of the best of my entire life. Southern Miss gave me the opportunity to do everything that I ever wanted to do. I have so many great memories of the games that we played, my coaches and teammates and the teachers who gave of their time to help me be successful."
He helped to change the course of Southern Miss basketball and is remembered by Southern Miss fans far and wide as not only one of the school's best student-athletes ever, but as one of the school's best basketball players ever. He was a player who played the game the way it was meant to be played.
If you are a lover of the history of Southern Miss athletics, then you owe it to yourself to attend this week's M-Club Alumni Association Sports Hall of Fame. It is a wonderful chance to meet up close and personal some of the legends in Golden Eagle history and hear them speak about their incredible careers. Many members of the Hall of Fame will be on hand as well, so for a few hours on Friday night you can take a trip through the history of Southern Miss athletics.
The Hall of Fame inductees will be on hand at Roberts Stadium on Saturday night for the Southern Miss-Southeastern Louisiana football game and will be introduced at halftime.
Also, on Saturday night, the 1958 and 1962 football teams that won the United Press International College Division National Championship will be honored and inducted into the Southern Miss Legends Club. Many players from those great teams will be in attendance at the Rock on Saturday night.
The history of Southern Miss athletics is rich and deep and full of tradition and this weekend that history will be in the spotlight at the Rock and around the campus.
Can't wait for all of it to get started!