Wally Szczerbiak wasn’t surprised when the Mid-American Conference announced on Monday that he was being inducted into the MAC’s Hall of Fame.
The former Miami basketball star learned of his impending induction in March. He was supposed to be in the CBS Sports Network studio analyzing the MAC men’s basketball tournament when the announcement was made, according to Miami Athletics Director David Sayler. The announcement and the tournament were among many casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Everything got the plug pulled,” Sayler said on Tuesday. “I called him before the tournament. He was really excited and grateful. He’s become a great ambassador for Miami sports.”
Szczerbiak’s contributions include participating through Instagram during Miami’s recent fund-raising auction.
“He did a great job interacting with the fans,” Sayler said.
Szczerbiak joins several former Miami athletes and coaches to be inducted into the MAC Hall of Fame – from Charlie Coles to Dick Shrider, with Wayne Embry, Bill Mallory, Ara Parseghian, John Pont, William Rohr, Ben Roethlisberger, Bo Schembechler in between.
Sayler pointed out that MAC Hall of Fame inductions didn’t happen from 1995 through 2011.
“There are many, many more candidates,” he said.
Szczerbiak scored 1,847 career points while playing for Miami from the 1995-1996 season through the 1998-1999 season. He is the RedHawks second all-time leading scorer and ranks 24th in MAC men’s basketball history. Szczerbiak is ranked among Miami career leaders on 11 of 19 career top-10 lists.
Szczerbiak helped lead Miami to the Sweet 16 in the 1999 men’s basketball tournament as he scored 43 points in Miami’s first round win over seventh-ranked Washington. Two days later he scored 24 points in a win over second-seeded Utah. Overall, Szczerbiak averaged 30.0 points per game during that 1999 tournament run.
Szczerbiak was named First-Team All-American by the Basketball News, Sports Illustrated and Basketball American in 1999. He also was a finalist for the Naismith Award that same season. He was named First-Team All-MAC in 1998 and 1999 and was the unanimous selection for the 1999 MAC Player of the Year award after averaging 24.2 points per game as a senior, which ranked third nationally.
Szczerbiak is one of just two Miami student-athletes to be named to the MAC All-Tournament team three times and is Miami’s career record holder for 3-point field-goal percentage and its single-season record holder for points, free throws and 3-point field-goal percentage.
He helped the RedHawks tie a school record for wins with 24 in the 1998-1999 season. He played in the 1997 and 1999 NCAA Tournaments and the 1996 National Invitation Tournament and helped Miami to regular-season MAC titles in 1997 and 1999 and a tournament crown in 1997.
Szczerbiak was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves as the sixth overall pick in 1999 and also played for Boston, Seattle and Cleveland during a 12-year NBA career. In addition to his work with the CBS Sports Network, Szczerbiak currently serves as a studio analyst for New York Knicks games on the MSG Network.
Szczerbiak was inducted into the Miami Hall of Fame in 2008. He was honored during “Wally Night” on February 9, 2018, during Miami’s home game against Toledo when he returned to Oxford to work as color analyst on the CBS Sports Network’s telecast of the game.
“Miami has done so much for me,” he said. “It will always be near and dear to my heart. I couldn’t have picked a better spot. I was able to develop and play here, and if you can play, anyone is going to find you. Miami really set me off on the right path as far as my career. It was a place where my dreams could come true.”
Sayler relished the opportunity to discuss good news.
“Oh, for sure,” he said. “I’m happy to be talking about a great accomplishment. I’ve gotten a lot of positive messages about Wally.”
Thank you for reading the Journal-News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Journal-News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.