Mel Daniels Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

Feb. 25, 2012

Orlando, Fla. and Springfield, Mass. –Former Lobo Mel Daniels, who went on to have a superlative career in the American Basketball Association (ABA), was one of the first five players named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame's Class of 2012.  Each of the first five were directly elected by distinguished committees focused on preserving all areas from the game of basketball. 

Along with Daniels, these direct-elects include Don Barksdale from the Early African American Pioneers Committee, Lidia Alexeeva from the International Committee, Chet Walker from the Veterans Committee and Phil Knight from the Contributor Direct Election Committee.  Daniels voted in from the American Basketball Association (ABA) Committee.

According to a Naismith press release, Daniels is one of the most dominating big men in the history of the American Basketball Association (ABA) as the league’s all-time leading rebounder (9,494) and fourth all-time leading scorer (11,739).  A two-time league MVP in 1969 and 1971, he was a seven-time ABA All-Star and a member of three ABA championship teams with the Indiana Pacers, now of the NBA.  He was selected as a member of the ABA 30-Man All-Time team. 

At the University of New Mexico, Daniels led the Lobos in scoring for three straight seasons and was the Western Athletic Conference Most Valuable Player in 1967.  He was drafted ninth in the 1967 NBA Draft, but chose to go play in the ABA instead.  Following his ABA Rookie of the Year award in 1968, he went on to earn All-ABA First Team four times and Second Team once.  After his professional career, which concluded as a member of the NBA’s New Jersey Nets, Daniels joined the coaching staff at Indiana State, where he coached future Hall of Famer Larry Bird.  He was also a member of the Indiana Pacers front office for over 20 years.

Daniels is currently 10th all-time in scoring at UNM with 1,537 points, and he is third in rebounding with 853.

This year marks the second year of the direct-elect process.  Last year, the ABA and Early African-American Pioneers committees were added to maintain a strong focus on keeping history on the forefront of the voting process and to preserve a balance between two eras of basketball.  These five individuals have been directly elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame and will be a part of the Enshrinement Ceremonies in September along with the eventual members from the North American and Women’s committees.  

These electees will join the eventual candidates of the North American and Women’s committees from a pool of finalists that includes five-time NBA All-Star Reggie Miller, five-time NCAA Final Four coach Rick Pitino, two-time NBA Coach of the Year Bill Fitch and two-time Olympic gold medalist Katrina McClain.  Previous finalists included again this year for consideration are Maurice Cheeks, Bernard King, Dick Motta, Don Nelson, Hank Nichols, Ralph Sampson, Jamaal Wilkes and the All American Red Heads.

The entire Class of 2012 will be announced on Monday, April 2 at a news conference in New Orleans prior to the NCAA’s Men’s Championship game. A Finalist needs 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee for election into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The Class of 2012 will be enshrined during festivities in Springfield, Mass. on Friday, September 7. Tickets to the 2012 Enshrinement and Induction Celebration are available by calling the Hall of Fame at (413) 231-5540.