Maybe Chauncey Billups didn’t see this coming. Others did.
Billups, a 1995 graduate of George Washington, was one of four former athletes inducted into the National Federation of State High School Associations’ Hall of Fame in June.
“I never knew any of this was possible for me,” Billups said during a press conference the day prior to being inducted at the federation’s 94th annual summer meeting held in Denver.
Billups, arguably the best boys basketball player in Colorado high school history, was part of a larger class of 13 members, which included administrators, officials, coaches and a performing arts inductee.
“This is an unbelievable honor for me to be here,” Billups said. “I’m humbled. It’s kind of embarrassing, to be honest.”
Billups entered the Colorado High School Activities’ Hall of Fame in 2012. In his time at GW, he won two Class 6A championships (1993, 1994), was a four-time player of the year selection by The Denver Post, a McDonald’s All-American (1995), and averaged 23.8 points per game.
Asked to describe the impact high school sports had on his life, Billups mentioned “the life-long relationships that you build.”
“You never know how long those relationships will ever last, and you find out once you get older that the relationships are for a lifetime,” Billups said. “No matter how my career or any of my other ex-teammates’ careers go, or went, or where their lives take them, we always have that time of our lives in common.
“It was just so pure at that time. It was just a beautiful time, and I will always remember that.”
After high school, Billups went on to star at the University of Colorado, where he led the Buffs to their first NCAA tournament appearance in 28 years. He was the No. 3 overall pick in the 1997 NBA draft, and just completed his 16th season in the league, including five years over two stints with the Denver Nuggets. He’s a five-time all-star, and was named the MVP of the 2004 NBA Finals when he helped the Detroit Pistons to a title.
He’s active off-the-court, as well, and is heavily involved in Colorado’s youth basketball scene. That includes the Porter-Billups Leadership Adacemy at Denver’s Regis University which helps inner-city kids.
Colorado now has 20 inductees in the NFHS Hall of Fame, tied for the third-most of any state. Those Colorado roots have been a source of pride throughout Billups’ career.
“Not a lot of guys made it in basketball from this state,” Billups said. “So I carry that chip on my shoulder everywhere I go and everywhere I play, no matter what team or what the letters on the front of the jersey say, I always just carry that pride with me — knowing that I probably wasn’t supposed to be here.”
NFHS Class of 2013
Joe Theismann, who was a three-sport star at South River (New Jersey) High School, led the football team to the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Group III championship in 1966 with a 9-0 record and 24 touchdown passes. He quarterbacked the University of Notre Dame to a No. 2 national ranking in 1971, and he won a Super Bowl and Most Valuable Player honors during his career with the Redskins.
Chauncey Billups was a four-time all-state selection and three-time Mr. Basketball at Denver (Colorado) George Washington High School. He averaged 23.8 points per game for his career and helped his team to state championships as a sophomore and junior in 1993 and 1994. Billups is in his 16th season in the National Basketball Association (NBA), highlighted by six years with Detroit when he helped the Pistons to the 2004 NBA championship.
As a senior at Cleveland East Technical in 1941, Harrison Dillard won the city, district and state championships in the 120-yard high hurdles and 220-yard low hurdles. At the 1948 Olympics in London, Dillard won gold medals in the 100-meter dash and 4x100-meter relay. Four years later at the 1952 Games in Helsinki, he won gold in the 110-meter hurdles and 4x100-meter relay.
While helping St. Louis (Missouri) St. Joseph’s Academy to amazing records of 137-7 in volleyball and 117-5 in basketball and eight Missouri State High School Activities Association state championships, Kristin Folkl Kaburakis won all-state honors each year in both sports and graduated third in her class with a 4.2 grade-point average. She continued her two-sport dominance at the collegiate level, helping Stanford to three NCAA Volleyball Championships and an overall 125-8 record and two NCAA Women’s Final Four appearances in basketball and an overall 85-11 mark.
In 37 years as girls swimming coach at Cheshire (Connecticut) High School, Ed Aston’s teams won 25 Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference state championships and had a 414-21-1 record. He coached the boys teams for 33 years, claiming 18 state titles, and recorded an overall record of 410-47. His girls teams won a national-record 281 consecutive dual meets from 1986 to 2011.
Chuck Koeppen led the Carmel (Indiana) High School boys cross country teams to 11 Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) state championships and the girls teams to 11 titles as well. Five times his boys and girls teams won state titles in the same year. His cross country teams finished second 16 times, and his boys track team won the IHSAA state championship in 2000.
Chuck Lenahan won his 19th state football championship last year at Plymouth Regional High School and is the winningest football coach in New Hampshire history. In 43 years at Plymouth, Lenahan has compiled a 345-69-1 record, which includes 13 undefeated seasons and a 57-game winning streak from 2005 to 2010.
Since assuming the boys lacrosse coaching duties at Camillus (New York) West Genesee High School in 1976, Mike Messere has posted a 757-55 record (.930 winning percentage) – the all-time mark by a high school or college lacrosse coach. His teams have won 15 New York State Public High School Athletic Association state championships and established a national record 91-game winning streak from 1981 to 1984.
After stops in South Carolina and Georgia for nine years to begin his coaching career, James Tate joined the Mobile (Alabama) St. Paul’s Episcopal High School staff in 1978 and started the school’s boys track and cross country programs. Combining boys and girls cross country, boys and girls indoor track, and boys and girls outdoor track, Tate’s teams have won an unbelievable 86 state championships. His girls cross country teams won 16 consecutive Alabama High School Athletic Association state titles from 1983 to 1998 – an all-time national record.
After 16 years as an active basketball official in Kentucky, Jerry Kimmel turned his attention to recruiting and training officials and was one of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s assigning secretaries for basketball. He also was a highly successful college basketball official for many years.
Haig Nighohossian has been selected to officiate the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Boys Soccer State Finals 17 times and the IHSA Girls Soccer State Finals seven times. He has been a soccer rules interpreter for the IHSA since 1973 and has served as coordinator of officials at the state finals on several occasions.
Ronnie Carter joined the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) staff in 1978 and was appointed executive director in 1986. In addition to his leadership at the state level, Carter served on the NFHS Football Rules Committee for 25 years and was chair of the NFHS Basketball Rules Committee for eight years. He was chair of the Football Research Subcommittee for eight years and was a member of the NFHS Wrestling Rules Committee for four years. Carter was president of the NFHS in 2001-02.
Richard Floyd is a recognized authority on conducting, the art of wind band rehearsing, concert band repertoire and music advocacy. He has served as a clinician, adjudicator and conductor with appearances in 40 states and nine other countries. As director of music for the Texas University Interscholastic League, Floyd coordinated all facets of secondary music competition for 3,500 performing organizations throughout the state of Texas.