KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — In 1998, Shane Battier was cut by coach Rick Majerus’ Goodwill USA Team.
On Sunday, both were inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.
That happened right after the Duke standout’s freshman season and he used that as motivation throughout the rest of his college career.
“It was the first time I’ve ever been cut from a team,” Battier said. “I was pretty heated and after that I worked my tail off. I had one goal and that was I wanted my coach to be sweating every second when I was on the bench.”
Following that, Battier won three NABC Defensive Player of the Year honors, National Player of the Year award, Final Four Outstanding Player and a National Title in the final three years of college.
“That propelled me to come back stronger and hungrier,” he said. “I think that was the motivation I needed.”
Majerus passed away in 2012, but his coaching career stretched 25 years and he won 517 games with four teams. With Utah, he won 10 conference titles in 13 years and led the Utes to two Sweet 16’s and an Elite Eight.
“I know we focus so much on the NCAA Tournament because of the magnitude, but really the conference titles are special,” Steve Lavin, host of the event, said.
Battier had another connection with a fellow inductee, coach Lute Olson. These two met as competitors in the 2001 national championship game when Battier’s Blue Devils edged Olsen’s Arizona Wildcats 82-72. This after Olson helped the Wildcats win their first national title in 1997. Olson was unable to attend the hall of fame weekend due to a stroke he had in February.
“All the actors in my career are here today it seems,” Battier said. “He is 100% class and he was the first one in line to shake all of our hands. I’ll always have respect for coach Olson.”
For inductee Homer Drew, the weekend ended a coaching career that went full circle. Drew started his career as a coach at Lee’s Summit High School in Missouri and ended at the Hall of Fame in Kansas City.
“It’s been a wonderful circle for me to come back and feel very humbled and honored,” Drew said.
Drew’s career is most known for his time at Valparaiso, where his teams reached the NCAA Tournament seven times including a Sweet 16 appearance in 1998. His son Bryce, who was in attendance for the ceremony, hit an iconic buzzer-beater to upset Ole Miss that year to carry the Crusaders into the second round.
“A reason why a coach is here is because of so many good players,” he said. “What makes my heart happy is when my players graduated so they all had something to fall back on after their playing days.”
Calbert Cheane also was inducted with Larry Johnson, Terry Dischinger, Ernie DiGregorio and Todd Lichti.