The Kansas Sports Hall of Fame is opening two new locations, in Wichita and Newton, to honor Sunflower athletic heroes.
Two former Kansas basketball personalities of note are not included on the roster and, considering some of the relative non-entities who are, it’s tragic that Paul Endacott and Dick Harp are missing.
Endacott starred on KU’s 1922-23 mythical national champions, then did wondrous things for KU and Lawrence as president of Phillips Petroleum. Coach Phog Allen often called the Lawrence product the best player he ever had. One hall-of-fame event featured Endacott as the speaker, assuming he was included. Leaders were aghast when Paul told them “I’m not there.” They’re still hemming and hawing about why he isn’t.
Paul is a longtime member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. If there, why not Kansas, guys?
Dick Harp is another KU cage figure of massive merit who keeps getting overlooked. A Kansas City Rosedale all-sports star, he started on the 1938-40 court teams that compiled a 50-15 record. He co-captained the 1940 team that played Indiana for the NCAA title.
From 1948-56, he was Phog’s key assistant, then the next eight years was head coach, compiling a 121-82 mark. That included two conference titles, two NCAA Tournament berths and a masterful record of getting through two seasons coping with the polite disobedience of Wilt Chamberlain. Dick is the only man ever to be with four Final Four teams as a player, assistant and head coach at the same school. Isn’t that alone a Kansas Hall of Fame feat?
After KU, Harp was an executive with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes for 13 years, then finally heeded Dean Smith’s annual call to serve on Smith’s UNC staff from 1986-89. Says Dean: “Dick is one of the most brilliant basketball minds I have ever known.” Smith played at KU under assistant Harp. Dean and many others give Dick credit for developing the pressing defensive tactics that sparked KU to the 1952 national title, and which UCLA’s John Wooden, Dean Smith, Phil Woolpert and countless others employed with great success.
Wooden said, while winning 10 NCAA titles, that “arrival of the Kansas pressure defense (Harp’s baby) was one of the turning points in college basketball.”
Oh, yes, while at Carolina with Smith, Dick became sold on an assistant named Roy Williams, whom he helped bring here to give KU 15 of its finest court years. You want testimonials? Listen for five minutes to Jayhawk legends like Jerry Waugh, Bill Lienhard, Bill Hougland, Charlie Hoag, Allen Kelley and Gil Reich. When Wilt wasn’t rebelling, bedding more women or driving his car at 100 mph to Denver, the late Mr. Chamberlain often described Dick as “a beautiful man.”
Waugh, who played under and assisted Harp, then head-coached in high school and college, contends that Dick is one of the most underrated and undersung figures in college basketball history, not just KU and Kansas.
Paul Endacott died in 1997 at age 94; Harp died in 2000 at 81.
One of the New Year resolutions for the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame should be to add these deserving Jayhawks to its pantheon.