The Year in the SEC four times and in the Metro Conference once. He was also named Sports Illustrated’s “National Coach of The HalfSeason” midway through the 1987-88 season for coaching Georgia to success at that juncture way beyond what was predicted in the pre-season. The Bulldogs eventually won 20 games and reached the second round of the NIT that season. Hugh is one of only 12 NCAA Division I coaches to take two different teams to the NCAA Final Four. When Hugh retired, he was one of only eight major college coaches to win at least 200 games at two schools and one of only seven to win at least 100 games at three schools. Hugh’s career totals also included eight NCAA tournament appearances, two NCAA Final Fours, seven NIT bids, one NIT Final Four, two SEC championships and one Metro Conference Championship. His teams recorded eight 20-plus win seasons. Hugh coached nine All-Americans, four Academic All-Americans, four firstround NBA draft picks and a pair of U.S. Olympians (Vern Fleming and Willie Anderson). Fifteen of his former players went on to play in the NBA and he had 31 players selected in the NBA draft. Two of his former players – Cowens (Florida State) and Wilkins (Georgia) – were inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame. In recognition of his achievements building successful programs, CollegeInsider.com named its annual award for the top coach of a Mid-Major school the “Hugh Durham Coach of the Year” award. And in 1999, to honor Hugh’s contributions to Florida State University Basketball as a player and head coach,
the school renamed its award given annually to its top player the “Hugh Durham Most Valuable Player” award. Hugh also received the Naismith Outstanding Contribution to College Basketball Award from the Atlanta TipOff Club in 2003. Additionally, Hugh helped produce a long list of coaches, and several of his former players and assistants became head coaches, most notably on college, professional and semi-pro levels. Besides Doug Durham, these include: Murray Arnold (UT-Chattanooga, Western Kentucky, Stetson and Birmingham Southern); Tevester Anderson (Murray State and Jacksonville State); Mark Slonaker (Mercer); Eddie Biedenbach (UNC-Asheville); Don Beasley (Northwestern State); Charlton Young (Georgia Southern); Morris McHone (San Antonio Spurs, US National Team and Sioux Falls, NDNBA Developmental League and Continental Basketball Association); and Nate “Tiny” Archibald (Fayetteville, NC-NBA Developmental League and Connecticut-US Basketball League).
Accomplishments provide pride
Hugh has given loyal, sincere and conscientious service to his chosen profession. Because of his coaching success, he was often considered as a candidate for various other jobs, including notably two of basketball’s most prestigious posts--- the NBA’s Boston Celtics and the University of Kentucky. Hugh rejected an offer to be the Celtics head coach to remain in college coaching and he was a one-time finalist for Kentucky’s head coaching position. He also was offered two other NBA jobs-- head coach
“Hugh is a loving and caring man with a big heart. He is so genuine and compassionate. He’s a wonderful husband, father and grandfather and an equally good basketball coach. And that’s saying a lot.” -Malinda Durham, Wife of Hugh Durham
of the Philadelphia 76ers and as an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs, but he declined both overtures. Hugh remains a student of the game of basketball and he has been involved in it in various capacities during his retirement, including working as an instructor at the annual Tommy Burleson Basketball Camp in Newland. While downplaying his contributions, nevertheless, Hugh is honored to receive recognition for his coaching achievements. He commented: “I never made a field goal, a free throw or a steal as a coach; although I got a few technical fouls for arguing with officials (he laughed). I haven’t done anything but be fortunate enough to be in the right places at the right times with the right group of players and have an opportunity to coach them. The rewards of coaching are great; the sacrifices are plentiful. The success I had was primarily because I had good players, assistant coaches and support staffs as well as the ultimate in love and support from my wife, children and grandchildren. My family is a team just like all the teams are at each school I’ve coached. None of what success I’ve enjoyed could have happened without my family. “Everyone makes mistakes, but I believe I’ve done things the right way in my coaching career and in my life, and I’m very proud of that.”
-Tim Gardner is a freelance journalist who makes his home in the North Carolina High Country of Avery County and is a friend of Coach Durham and his family. Tim’s articles have appeared in national, regional, local and specialty publications, including Singing News, the printed voice of Southern Gospel Music, formerly based in Boone. Tim also is a long-time enthusiast of the University of Georgia Bulldogs, and he has covered their exploits for newspapers, magazines and online web sites. ----------------------------------*Photographs for this article provided by Coach Hugh and Malinda Durham; Sports Communications Offices at Florida State University, the University of Georgia and Jacksonville University; Wingate Downs, Athens, GA; and Tim Gardner, Ingalls, NC. May 2012
High Country Magazine