SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — It hasn’t been hard to find West Virginia basketball fans in the Northeast corner of the United States this weekend.
Many Mountaineer fans and supporters have flocked to Springfield, Massachusets to watch Bob Huggins be inducted in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Huggins will be formally enshrined in the Hall of Fame Saturday evening, beginning at 7 p.m. ET on NBA TV.
However, The Bear is already a fixture on the Hall of Fame’s grounds and inside the Class of 2022 exhibit in the museum.
There, Gold and Blue Nation met up with New Philadelphia, Ohio, resident Jeff Mathias.
Mathias and his family are lifelong friends of Huggins and the Huggins family. Jeff played basketball for Huggins’ father, Charles, for multiple seasons. His younger brother did, as well.
“We grew up playing basketball at the YMCA in the 70s, and played teams out at his camp – his father’s basketball camp,” said Mathias. “A lot of greats were out there, and Bobby was one of them.”
Mathias credits Charles Huggins for making a better basketball player out of himself, and many players, throughout the state of Ohio.
Bob Huggins has followed in his father’s footsteps.
“Bob is just a great guy that mentors young boys and makes them men,” Mathias said. “He has quite a following that’s here at the enshrinement this weekend, and it just shows the love that they have for coach.”
Mathias spoke glowingly about Huggins’ work ethic as a player. He detailed how opposing teams zeroed in on him, knowing that he was the coach’s son. Huggins’ playing career nearly continued in the NBA, though he was cut by the Philadelphia 76ers.
He then began coaching, and 916 wins later, is still at it.
“We always knew he’d be a great coach,” said Mathias.
Stick with Gold and Blue Nation for more stories and interviews detailing this historic weekend for Huggins. Our coverage is presented by The Health Plan, Little General Stores and Pritt & Spano.