CLEVELAND, Tenn. - When he first took a call from Bradley Central boys' basketball coach Chuck Clark saying he was chosen for induction into the Bear Hall of Fame, Alphonso Push didn't believe it. But after Friday night's ceremony, he can't help but believe it now.
Pugh was one of two former Bears stars inducted between the girls' and boys' games against Walker Valley. The other was Doyle Fowler, who played at Bradley from 1950 to '53.
The 6-foot-6 Pugh scored 1,425 points in his Bradley career, helping the Bears to a 33-3 record and a trip to the 2002 state tournament, where they were defeated by Memphis White Station. Pugh went on to play for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he scored 1,141 points and had 524 rebounds before blowing out his knee on a dunk in a game his senior season.
"I'm ecstatic about it, because when I first started playing, it was just to play. It wasn't for any accolades," Pugh said late Friday evening. "I'm still a little overwhelmed. When [Coach Clark] told me, the first thing I asked him was, 'Are you sure?' But he told me everything was solid, and it finally set in when Coach [Kent] Smith called me to tell me."
Smith, who was his Bears coach, said Pugh benefited greatly from his sophomore season, when he played an understudy role to 2000 state Class AAA Mr. Basketball Josh Hare and fellow senior Zach Carpenter, who went on to have a standout career at Alabama-Huntsville, earning conference player of the year honors in 2003-04.
"He had as much improvement between his sophomore and junior seasons as anybody I've ever had," Smith said of Pugh. "He went from a 6-4, 200-pound kid to a 6-6, 225-pounder. His being able to practice alongside Josh and Zach his sophomore season gave him a taste of big-time basketball."
Fowler played for coach Tip Smith -- Kent Smith's grandfather -- earning all-district and all-region for a team that went to the state tournament. He received all-state honorable mention.
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.