Milligan University honors basketball legends with court dedication
Published 1:42 pm Monday, January 15, 2024
By Ron Marvel
MILLIGAN – Milligan University paid tribute to two legendary alumni, Sonny Smith and Del Harris, by dedicating the basketball court inside Steve Lacy Fieldhouse to them. The ceremony took place during a basketball doubleheader on Saturday, featuring Milligan’s men’s and women’s teams against the University of Pikeville.
“We are excited to acknowledge the positive impact Del Harris and Sonny Smith have made on Milligan and the game of basketball,” said Milligan President Dr. Bill Greer. “Both men have been tremendous ambassadors for Milligan, and we’re thrilled to honor them in a way that will keep their legacies alive.”
Sonny Smith, unable to attend, was represented by his son, Steve. The court, now named Smith-Harris Court, sits in a fieldhouse named after Steve Lacy, a Milligan standout in football and basketball during the late 1920s and early 1930s. Lacy later coached at Milligan, achieving success in football, basketball, baseball, and track.
Both Smith and Harris were coached by Duard Walker, a legendary Milligan alum who served as a coach and athletic director for 50 years. Smith graduated in 1958, averaged 18 points per game for Milligan’s basketball team, and later had a successful coaching career.
Smith’s coaching career included turning around East Tennessee State University’s basketball team and leading Auburn to its first-ever NCAA Tournament bid in 1984. After a coaching career spanning over 30 years, he became a beloved color commentator and was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
Harris, a 1959 Milligan graduate, was named to six all-conference teams during his playing days and had a coaching career that spanned over 30 years in the NBA. He achieved success with teams like the Houston Rockets, Milwaukee Bucks, and the Los Angeles Lakers. Harris was also recognized on the international stage, winning three straight league championships while coaching professional basketball in Puerto Rico.
After the dedication ceremony, Harris expressed gratitude, saying, “It’s a great thing to be here and be honored. These boards will last longer than we will. I thank God for all he gave us and for things we never could’ve imagined.”