Wayne Estes

USU basketball great Wayne Estes died in February of 1965, the night he topped the 2,000-point mark at USU. Estes, among others, will be honored Saturday night at the Spectrum.

With the 50th season of college basketball being played in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum winding down, it is time to celebrate.

Saturday night will give fans a chance to reflect back on some championship teams, as well as remember some Aggie basketball legends. Utah State will host Boise State as well. The game will tip off at 8 p.m.

Four conference championship teams will be recognized — the 1979-80, 1994-95, 1999-2000 and 2009-10 squads, as well as individual spotlights of Wayne Estes and Ladell Andersen.

Saturday will also mark exactly 55 years to the day that Estes became the first Aggie in program history to surpass 2,000 career points. Estes scored 48 points against Denver that night — reaching 2,001 — in what turned out to be his final basketball game ever. After the game, Estes and some friends stopped at the scene of a car accident near campus. While crossing the street, Estes brushed against a downed high power line and was tragically electrocuted.

Estes will be remembered during a short ceremony, approximately 10 minutes before the opening tip Saturday night.

Andersen was the head coach of the Aggies from 1962-71, going 173-96. USU made three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances from 1962-64, an NIT appearance in 1967, and back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 1970 and 1971. Andersen finished his career as the third-winningest coach in school history and mentored five All-Americans during his tenure in Estes, Cornell Green, Shaler Halimon, Marvin Roberts and Nate Williams.

A former walk-on, Andersen lettered as an Aggie basketball player from 1949-52 and also served as the school’s athletics director from 1973-82. He was a two-time all-Skyline Conference guard. Andersen passed away at the end of last December and will be remembered just before the opening tip.

The four championship teams returning to the Spectrum will be recognized during halftime of the game.

The 1979-80 team went 19-8 overall, including an 11-2 mark in the Pacific Coast Athletic Association to earn the Aggies’ first-ever regular-season championship.

Head coach Rod Tueller was named the PCAA Coach of the Year in his rookie season as the Aggies made their third-straight postseason appearance, losing in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament to Clemson.

Dean Hunger was named the PCAA Player of the Year after leading the Aggies in points (20.8) and rebounds (8.6), along with earning all-PCAA honors alongside teammates Brian Jackson and Rich McElrath. McElrath’s averages of 6.4 assists and 2.6 steals per game still rank as the third-most and second-most in program history.

The 1994-95 squad finished 21-8 overall, with a 14-4 mark in the Big West Conference, capturing the regular-season title. In his second year at the helm, head coach Larry Eustachy was named the Big West Coach of the Year.

Senior Eric Franson was named the Big West Player of the Year after averaging 18.4 points and 9.8 rebounds per game, leading the team in both statistics. Corwin Woodward and Roddie Anderson also earned postseason honors as they were both named to the all-Big West second team. The Aggies finished the year with a berth in the NIT, losing to Illinois State in the opening round.

The 1999-2000 team finished the year with a then-program record 28 victories. The Aggies finished the year with a 19-game winning streak, maintaining a perfect record in the Big West and capturing both the regular season and Big West tournament titles.

Troy Rolle and Shawn Daniels were each honored with first-team all-Big West accolades, while Bernard Rock and Tony Brown were recognized with honorable mention honors. Head coach Stew Morrill was named the Big West Coach of the Year, the first of five such honors for Morrill during his tenure at USU. The Aggies lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to UConn.

The 2009-10 team finished the year 27-8, including a 14-2 mark in the Western Athletic Conference en route to earning the team’s third-straight conference title. Morrill was named the WAC Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season, guiding Jared Quayle and Tai Wesley to first-team all-WAC honors. Nate Bendall and Brian Green were named to the all-newcomer team, while Pooh Williams was named to the all-defensive team.

Wesley finished the year 12th in the country in field goal percentage (.574), while the Aggies led the nation with a 1.63 assist-to-turnover ratio. USU was the only team that year to rank in the Top 10 in 3-point field goal percentage (.414), field goal percentage (.488) and free throw percentage (.758). The team finished the year with a 69-53 loss to Texas A&M in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

In addition to honoring the past, the current Aggies will be wearing throwback uniforms emblazoned with “State” in homage to uniforms worn by USU in the 60s and 70s.

Shawn Harrison is the sports editor at The Herald Journal. He can be reached at sharrison@hjnews.com or 435-792-7233.

Please be aware that Cache Valley Publishing does not endorse, and is not responsible for alleged employment offers in the comments.