Tuesday, February 19, 2013

UNO Alumnus Ervin Johnson Earns Spot in Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame

Ervin Johnson 1991 - 1992Ervin Johnson, a native of Jonesville, La.,was announced as a member of the 2013 class of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

Former Privateer Named to Class of 2013, Induction Set for June

He had not played basketball for nearly five years, ever since he quit the Block High team as a 10th grader, and after he graduated from that tiny Louisiana school, he spurned college and went to work stocking shelves at a Baton Rouge A&P. But now, on this November night in 1988, he walked unannounced into Tim Floyd's office.

It was 9:30 p.m. on the last day college could corral basketball recruits in this early-signing period and here Floyd – about to begin his first year as the head coach of the University of New Orleans – was busy phoning prospects he hoped would take one of the six scholarships available. Now, a call just completed, he looked up and spotted his visitor.

The rest of the story as told on Dec. 1, 1991 by The Chicago Tribune is one familiar with many New Orleanians, particularly those who follow the New Orleans Privateers men's basketball team.

The tale is of Ervin Johnson, a native of Jonesville, La., who in January was announced as a member of the 2013 class of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. He joins eight others in the group which will be enshrined on June 29, 2013 in Natchitoches, La.

Johnson will be joined in the nine-member class by a diverse group of athletes which includes jockey Ronald Ardoin, former LSU football player Tommy Hodson, Grambling basketball legend James Jones, New Orleans amateur athlete Anna Koll, multi-time NFL Pro Bowler Kevin Mawae, NBA star Shaquille O'Neal, professional tennis great Chanda Rubin and former Newman High coach Ed "Skeets" Tuohy.

The 2013 Induction class will be the first to be welcomed into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Museum, operated by the Louisiana State Museum system in a partnership with the Louisiana Sports Writers Association. The two-story, 27,500-square foot structure faces Cane River Lake in the National Historic Landmark District of Natchitoches and will open this summer.

A 30-member Louisiana Sports Writers Association committee selected the 2013 inductees. The panel considered a record 146 nominees from 26 different sport categories on a 33-page ballot, said Hall of Fame chairman Doug Ireland.

Johnson played at UNO from 1989 until 1993 under Tim Floyd after the two initially met in Nov. 1988. The duo accounted for 87 wins together, including NCAA tournament appearances in 1991 and 1993.

Known for his dominant inside presence, Johnson was ranked in the top 25 of the NCAA in blocked shots per game for three straight seasons while also ranking in the top 15 in rebounds over the same stretch from 1991-93.

During his time at UNO, Johnson set school marks for rebounds in a game (24) and single-game field goal percentage with a 9 of 10 performance against UT-Pan American in 1993.

Upon completion of his career, Johnson ranked amongst the top 10 in school history in points scored, field goal percentage, double-doubles, rebounds, double-figuring scoring games, steals, games played and blocks.

The MVP of the 1993 National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) All-American game, Johnson earned All-American recognition from The Basketball Times, Basketball Weekly, UPI and the Associated Press during his tenure on the Lakefront.

"By the time Ervin Johnson finished playing basketball at UNO, his fame was widespread," said former New Orleans sports information director Ed Cassiere. "The Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, the Associated Press -- those were some of the outlets which wrote about him."

"Ervin's rise to prominence was nothing short of amazing, and even better, his humble personality never seemed to change. It wasn't hard to pull for this guy to succeed. Ervin deserved every good thing that came his way."

Johnson's success at UNO led to a career in the NBA following his selection with the 23rd overall pick of the first round in the 1993 NBA Draft by the Seattle Supersonics. Over the next 12 years, Johnson played for Seattle, Denver, Milwaukee and Minnesota. He amassed 3,473 points, 5,148 rebounds and 1,087 blocks during a career that covered 845 games.

In the midst of his lengthy tenure with the NBA, the forward found time to complete his degree at UNO.

During the 1996-97 academic year, Johnson earned his degree in general studies from the University, walking across the stage at Lakefront Arena during a graduation ceremony in which he served as the commencement speaker.

The forward would later have his No. 40 jersey on Dec. 29, 1997.

Upon behind enshrined this June, Johnson will join legendary UNO baseball coach Ron Maestri (1995) as the lone inductee in school history. 

The 2013 Induction Celebration will kick off Thursday, June 27 with the press conference and reception. It includes three receptions, a Friday morning youth sports clinic and a Friday afternoon celebrity pro-am golf scramble at Oak Wing Golf Course in Alexandria.

Tickets for the Induction Dinner and Ceremonies, and golf entries, will go on sale May 15 through the LaSportsHall.com website, said Hall of Fame Foundation president/chief executive officer Lisa Babin. Sponsorship packages including tickets and golf entries are available now by contacting the Hall at 318-238-4255 or Babin at 318-458-0166.

For more information on the UNO Privateers, go to the Department of Athletics website >>