HOUSTON – When the University of Houston Men’s and Women’s Basketball programs move into their new home later this fall, they will officially step into the Guy V. Lewis Basketball Center.
A group of anonymous donors banded together to award naming rights for the state-of-the-art facility with the University of Houston Board of Regents recently approving the measure.
“University of Houston Basketball has no finer representative than Coach Guy V. Lewis, and it is fitting that our new Development Center should bear his name,” Vice President for Athletics Hunter Yurachek said. “For nearly 40 years, Coach Lewis established Houston as one of the premier programs in the nation, and we are grateful for the support of our donors who recognize his rich legacy and made this possible.”
“We are proud to call the Guy V. Lewis Basketball Center our new home,” Head Coach Kelvin Sampson said. “Coach Lewis’ legacy will be cemented by this phenomenal facility, and the impact it will have on University of Houston Basketball will be felt for generations to come.”
While his coaching career earns the most attention, it is easy to forget that Lewis was a talented student-athlete for the first two Houston teams in school history. He was a co-captain of Houston's first two teams and was a two-time All-Lone Star Conference First-Team selection.
He remains the only person in Houston Athletics history to be inducted into the Hall of Honor as both a student-athlete and as a coach.
Following his playing career, he served as an assistant for his coach Alden Pasche beginning in 1953 before assuming the head coach position in 1956.
During the next 30 years, he assembled a resume that featured a 592-279 record, five NCAA Four appearances, including three straight from 1982 to 1984, six Southwest Conference championships, 14 NCAA Tournament appearances and 17 postseason berths.
He coached some of the greatest names in Houston and college basketball history, including Elvin Hayes, who was the 1968 National Player of the Year, and All-Americans Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler in the early 1980s as part of the legendary Phi Slama Jama teams.
In 1996, those three players were named part of the NBA's Top 50 Greatest Players list, making Lewis and North Carolina's Dean Smith the only head coaches to work with three players from that illustrious group in college.
Hayes (1990), Drexler (2004) and Olajuwon (2008) capped their careers with enshrinement in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Lewis joined them with his induction in 2013.
To this day, Lewis remains one of only seven coaches in NCAA history to compete in nine or more Final Four games with one program (24, John Wooden, UCLA; 19, Mike Krzyzewski, Duke; 19, Dean Smith, North Carolina; 11, Adolph Rupp, Kentucky; 10 Denny Crum, Louisville and 9 Bob Knight, Indiana).
He was recognized as the 1968 National Coach of the Year and received a similar honor from the Associated Press in 1983 when his Phi Slama Jama team posted a 31-3 record and advanced to the first of two NCAA National Championship games.
In 2007, he was honored with induction into the College Basketball Hall of Fame.
However, Lewis' influence continues to be felt off the court to this day. In 1968, he was the architect of the Game of the Century between No. 1 UCLA and No. 2 Houston.
That game drew more than 52,000 fans inside the Houston Astrodome. It was the first regular-season college basketball game to be televised nationally and demonstrated the nationwide (and soon-to-be) worldwide popularity of college basketball on television and in large arenas.
Early in his career, Lewis played a key role in the integration of college basketball in the South. He successfully recruited and welcomed Hayes and Don Chaney to Houston Basketball as the first African-American student-athletes in program history and some of the earliest African-American players in the region.
ABOUT Guy V. Lewis BASKETBALL CENTER
Located at the corner of Cullen Boulevard and Holman Street on the UH campus, the 53,000-square-foot facility cost $25 million to build and will consist of three levels. The first level includes a dedicated practice court for each program with shared sports medicine and sports performance areas.
The second level will house team areas, including locker rooms and academic/film rooms with the third level designated for Men’s and Women’s Basketball coaching and support staffs.
DLR Group and PAGE served as architects on the project with Austin Commercial working as construction manager.
ATHLETICS CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS
This is only the latest capital improvement for Houston Athletics in recent years. TDECU Stadium, the $125 million home of Houston Football, opened in August 2014, while administrators recently unveiled plans for a new 20,000+-square foot, two-level Player Development Center and Clubhouse down the third-base line at Cougar Field.
Track and Field announced $1.5 million plans to renovate Tom Tellez Track at Carl Lewis International Complex, while Football saw the renovation of two practice fields. Houston Softball’s locker room underwent renovations, and the home of Houston Men’s and Women’s Golf recently added the Mike and Pat Booker Short Game Facility at Golf Club of Houston in nearby Humble, Texas.
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