Philadelphia Big 5 Announces 2017 Hall of Fame Class
Jan. 26, 2017
The Philadelphia Big 5 has announced that seven individuals will be inducted into the Big 5 Hall of Fame. The inductees for this year’s class are Carlene Hightower (La Salle) Ibrahim Jaaber (Penn), Jameer Nelson (Saint Joseph’s), Lynn Greer (Temple), Randy Foye (Villanova) George Raveling (Villanova), and longtime Philadelphia Inquirer sportswriter Bill Lyon. The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place at The Palestra on April 17.
"This is a fabulous group of inductees”, said Steve Bilsky, Big 5 Executive Director. “I, like all fans of college basketball in Philadelphia, look forward to welcoming our 2017 inductees on the floor of The Palestra on April 17."
The Hall of Fame induction is part of the season ending banquet that honors this year’s outstanding coaches and players. Information on obtaining tickets will be available through the Philadelphia Big 5 schools. Only a limited number of tickets will be available the day of the event at The Palestra Ticket Office.
One of the top scorers in Philadelphia over her final two years at La Salle, Carlene Hightower was the 2008 Big 5 Player of the Year and finished her career ranked ninth on La Salle's all-time scoring list with 1,425 points. The 5-11 forward was named the Atlantic 10's Most Improved Player as a sophomore after increasing her scoring average from 3.1 points as a freshman to 11.3 points in 2005-06. The following season, she was a First Team All-A10 and First Team All-Big 5 honoree after averaging 17.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.4 steals per contest. As a senior, she repeated on the first teams of the Atlantic 10 and Big 5 and upped her scoring output to 17.9 ppg while shooting 40.3 percent from three-point range. A person of high character on and off the court, she was named a finalist for the 2008 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, given to the nation's premier senior student-athlete in their respective sport.
One of the all-time guards in Penn history, Ibrahim Jaaber was the 2006-07 Philadelphia Big 5 Player of the Year and a two-time first-team All-Big 5. Additionally, he was a two-time Ivy League Player of the Year and helped Penn to Ivy titles each of his final three seasons (going a combined 38-4 in conference play over that time). Jaaber graduated as the Ivy League’s all-time leader in steals (303), and was sixth on Penn’s all-time scoring list (1,518 points) and seventh on its all-time assist list (321). He still holds the top three spots on Penn’s single-season steals list—96 in 2005-06; 90 in 2006-07; 85 in 2004-05—as well as the single-game steals record (9 vs. Dartmouth on March 4, 2005); both the single-game and single-season marks are also Ivy League records. Jaaber tied for second nationally in steals per game in 2005-06, and was fourth nationally in that category in 2006-07. As a senior, he led the Ivy League in assists per game, steals per game and assist/turnover ratio while finishing second in scoring.
Jameer Nelson is Saint Joseph’s all-time leader in points (2,094) and assists (713) in a career that spanned from 2000 to 2004. He was the Consensus National Player of the Year in 2004 as he led the Hawks to a best-ever 30-2 season, which included a number-one ranking, 27 straight wins, a top seed in the NCAA Tournament and a berth in the NCAA Elite Eight. Nelson averaged double figures all four years, with 20.6 points per game as a senior. A four-time selection to both the All-Big 5 First Team and the All-Atlantic 10 Team, he earned the Big 5’s Most Improved award and Rookie of the Year award in 2001, and was named the Big 5’s Most Valuable Player in both 2003 and 2004. The native of Chester, Pa., was part of the winningest four-year class in Saint Joseph’s history (98-28) which made four post-season appearances, including three in the NCAA Tournament. An NBA First Round Draft pick in 2004, Nelson is in the midst of a 13-year NBA career and is currently with the Denver Nuggets.
A star performer for Temple from 1997 through 2002, Lynn Greer ended his career as the program’s second all-time leading scorer with 2,099 points. The 6-1 guard turned in one of the best offensive seasons in Temple men’s basketball history as a senior in 2001-02. That year he averaged 23.2 points, scoring 719 points (3rd on the TU single-season list), while earning first team all-conference, all-district and Philadelphia Big 5 Most Valuable Player honors. The Philadelphia native (Engineering and Science HS) also set still-standing school records for single-season three-point accuracy (.472) and career free throw percentage (.852). Temple’s all-time leader in games played (137), Greer was a member of four NCAA teams, including two Elite Eight trips (1999, 2001), and one NIT Final Four (2002) in his career. Upon graduation, he played one season in the NBA and went on to a 12-year professional career overseas.
Randy Foye is one of Villanova’s great guards in a college career that began in 2002. As a senior in 2006, he became the first Wildcat since Kerry Kittles a decade before to earn consensus first team All-American honors. Foye was named first team All-American as a senior by the Associated Press, The Sporting News, and the United States Basketball Writers Association. He took home the 2006 Philadelphia Big Five and Big East Conference player of the year awards and was named a finalist for the 2006 John R. Wooden Award. Foye averaged 15.3 ppg in 131 career games and finished his career with 1,966 points. He also led the Wildcats to a 52-13 record over his final two seasons with two NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 appearances and one berth in the NCAA Elite Eight. Foye averaged 22.1 points and 6.4 rebounds in seven career NCAA Tournament games. His jersey was retired by Villanova in February 2011, and he was drafted as the seventh overall selection in the first round of the National Basketball Association Draft by Minnesota. He is currently playing in his 11th NBA season for the Brooklyn Nets.
George Raveling is a former Villanova team captain who made his mark in the early days of the Philadelphia Big Five. He was one of the elite rebounders in Wildcats history and still ranks 12th on the program’s all-time list in that category (835). Raveling collected 746 of those caroms in his junior and senior seasons playing for head coach Al Severance. He led the Wildcats to a 20-6 record as a senior. Villanova was 38-13 in his final two seasons and appeared in the National Invitation Tournament in both ’59 and ’60. Raveling averaged 11.9 ppg as a senior in 1959-60 and was named Honorable Mention All-Philadelphia in each of his final two seasons. He later became an assistant to coach Jack Kraft at Villanova and in that role was instrumental in helping to bring Big Five Hall of Famers Howard Porter and Johnny Jones to campus. That helped launch a career that would later see him become a successful head coach at Washington State (1972-83), Iowa (1983-86) and USC (1986-94). Since retiring from coaching, he has been a basketball executive for Nike and in 2015 was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Bill Lyon, a Philadelphia Inquirer sportswriter for over 30 years, is a seven-time winner of the Pennsylvania Sportswriter of the Year, two-time Emmy Winner, six-time Pulitzer Prize nominee, 1999 inductee into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, and 2006 inductee into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame. During Lyon's tenure at the Inquirer, his column was front and center in the Sunday sports section and when Big 5 schools moved into March, Bill was there with them. He's one of the great wordsmiths in the history of his profession, capturing scenes with a golden eye. He also was the most generous colleague his fellow sportswriters could hope to have, unpretentious as they come. He also may lead the city in writing columns that were saved and framed by his subjects, honored to have Bill Lyon cast his eye on them.