Locals Bert Jones, Willis Reed will join state HS Hall of Fame

The Louisiana High School Sports Hall of Fame is making up for lost time in style.

The selection committee looked to the stars picking 10 Pelican State prep sports Hall of Fame inductees for 2021, and as any Louisiana sports fan knows, Lincoln Parish is star-studded.

Local residents Bert Jones and Willis Reed are among the recently-announced inductees. Each has impeccable credentials and multiple memberships in other prestigious halls. Reed, the Grambling great, is in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Jones, well known as the “Ruston Rifle” while starring for the Bearcats and then LSU, is a College Football Hall of Fame member.

Both are in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, along with four other members of the high school hall’s 2021 inductees – Lafayette’s Jake Delhomme, Elvin Hayes of Rayville, Peyton Manning out of New Orleans, and Destrehan’s Ed Reed.

Manning’s brother Eli isn’t eligible for the LSHOF in Natchitoches for a couple of years, but he’s part of the high school hall’s 2021 class, along with another outstanding football figure, Baton Rouge native Marcus Spears, a Southern Lab product and now an ESPN superstar.

Lafayette’s UFC champion, Daniel Cormier, a three-time LHSAA state titlelist as a Northside HS wrestler and an all-state football linebacker, is in the class. It includes three-time Olympic swimming gold medalist Ashley Tappin, who attended St. Martin’s Episcopal School in Metairie.

No date for their induction has been set.

Reed, 78, was voted one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996, 14 years after his induction in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Born in Dubach, he grew up on a farm in Bernice, and played basketball at West Side High School in Lillie.

At Grambling, playing for coach Fred Hobdy, Reed scored 2,280 career points (26.6 per game) and averaged an amazing 21.3 rebounds as a senior. He led the Tigers to the along with three Southwestern Athletic Conference crowns.

Selected eighth overall in the 1964 NBA Draft, Reed immediately emerged as one of the game’s best, winning Rookie of the Year honors in 1965. He made seven All-Star Game appearances, winning MVP honors in 1970, and was the NBA Finals MVP when his New York Knicks won the world championship in 1970 and 1973. His No. 19 jersey was retired by the club after he averaged 18.7 points and 12.9 rebounds in his career from 1964-74.

Jones, 69, was the NFL’s MVP in 1976 for the Baltimore Colts highlighting his pro days from 1973-82. A record-setting passer for coach L.J. “Hoss” Garrett’s Ruston Bearcats, he headed to Baton Rouge to play for coach Charlie McCkendon’s Tigers.

Jones got only two starts until the end of his junior season, but took over in the quarterback rotation and finished his career 12-2-1 as LSU’s starter. The Tigers followed Jones into the AP Top 10 throughout the 1972 season, marked by the dramatic last-play 17-16 home win over Ole Miss on Jones’ pass to Brad Davis as time expired.

He became the first LSU quarterback to win consensus All-America honors, finished fourth in Heisman Trophy voting, and was named the national collegiate player of the year by The Sporting News. He was enshrined in the College Football Hall in 2016.

Jones was the second overall pick in the 1973 NFL Draft, and was the Colts’ quarterback for eight seasons. He led Baltimore to three straight AFC East Division championships (1975-77), with LA Tech star Roger Carr as his favorite target. His 1976 MVP season included a 102.5 passer rating, the third highest by any NFL quarterback in the 1970s.

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