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1957-1959 NAIA National Championship Teams Named to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2019
Sunday, April 7, 2019
1957-1959 NAIA National Championship Teams Named to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2019

Minneapolis, MN --- Today, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced the Tennessee State men’s basketball championship teams of 1957-59 will be one of 12 honorees in this year’s Class of 2019. The class will be celebrated at this year’s Enshrinement festivities in Springfield, Massachusetts, September 5-7, 2019.

The 1957-59 teams were the first in basketball history to win back-to-back-to-back championships in any college division. Coached by the late Hall of Fame coach John McLendon, the teams went 31-4, 31-3 and 32-1 in his final three years at the helm of the Tigers, garnering the school's first national championship. The 32-win season remains the most-winningest season for Tennessee State basketball.

“I’m elated that our championship teams will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame,” said athletics director Teresa Phillips. “What those coaches and players were able to accomplish back then was special and groundbreaking. Under the leadership of Coach McLendon, these men changed the way the game was played while breaking down racial barriers. They are very deserving of this honor.”

“Our team was really a great team,” said Dick Barnett, two-time NAIA Championship MVP. “We had to win without public accommodation. I will be talking about those realities this September. It was a different America. I’m glad others are finally recognizing the team for the work we did during the era of interposition and nullification.”  

Members of the three NAIA championship teams:

Richard “Skull” Barnett, 1955-59
John Barnhill, 1956-59
Hillary Brown, 1959-61
Joesph Buckhalter, 1956
Charles “Henry” Carlton, 1955-56
Robert Clark, 1959-61
Albert Cook, 1956
Melvin Davis, 1959-61
George Finley, 1959-61
Lavert France, 1959-60
Ronald Hamilton, 1954-56
Ronald Heflin, 1958-61
Rossie Johnson III, 1958-61
Porter  “Mert” Merriweather, 1959-62
Remus Nesbit, 1952-56
Rueben Perry, 1955-58
Gregory Pharr, 1959
James Satterwhite, 1956-59
Nurlin Tarrant, 1955-59
Ben Warley, 1958-60
Elliott “Peco” Warley, 1959-61
Eugene Werts, 1958-61