By Daniel Marco | @DanielMarco1995
Sports Capital Journalism Program
HOUSTON — The U.S. Basketball Writers Association held its annual awards luncheon Monday morning in Houston to honor distinguished members of the sports writing community.
The USBWA Hall of Fame Class of 2023 included Seth Davis, Bob Logan, Kevin Scarbinsky, Lesley Visser and Grant Wahl.
Davis, who writes for the The Athletic and has covered college basketball for CBS since 2004, first made a name for himself writing for Sports Illustrated for over 22 years.
“I’m often asked, what do you like better, writing or TV?” Davis said. “I’ve always said that TV is more fun, but writing is more gratifying. So for me to be recognized in this way is as gratifying as I can imagine.”
Logan, during a career of more than 40 years, wrote at the Chicago Tribune and the Daily Herald. He passed away in 2006 at the age of 74, and was inducted posthumously by USBWA executive director Malcolm Moran. His Hall of Fame plaque will be displayed at Temple University, where it will find a home on campus in the Claire Smith Center for Sports Media.
Scarbinsky has been covering college basketball in Alabama for almost 40 years, following the trio of Alabama, Auburn and UAB. While he admits that covering basketball in a self-described “football” state has been a challenge, he is grateful for the time he’s spent there.
“I have the exact same birthday as UAB coach Gene Bartow’s son, Murry Bartow. How could I not grow up to be the basketball guy in a football state?” Scarbinsky said. “It was destiny.”
Lesley Visser has been involved with sports for almost 50 years. While she may be more widely known for her work on television, she got her start as a writer, working for the Boston Globe for 14 years. While she has been inducted into seven different Halls of Fame, being a part of this year’s class was no less special for her.
“I always think of myself as a writer,” Visser said, “I am a writer. And being a woman in an industry that’s largely male, being inducted like this just means so much.”
Wahl, who died on December 2 at the age of 48 while covering the World Cup, won numerous first place finishes in the USBWA’s Best Writing contest early in his career at Sports Illustrated. He was represented by his brother Eric and wife Celine Gounder.
“It means a lot to me and our entire family to see Grant honored in this way,” Gounder said. “The last few months have been very hard and bittersweet in so many respects, so we appreciate everybody’s kind words.”
M.A. Voepel of ESPN.com and Carl Adamec of the Journal Inquirer of Manchester, Conn. were honored during the Awards Brunch at the Women’s Final Four in Dallas last Friday.
Former president Dick “Hoops” Weiss, who covered his 50th Final Four, was presented with a basketball signed by the Final Four coaches as well as his sports writing peers in recognition of his contributions to college basketball.
Joel Lorenzi was the winner of the men’s basketball Rising Star Award, which is given annually and honors a college basketball reporter under the age of 30. Lorenzi, 23, is a 2021 graduate of Missouri who hails from Chicago and completed his first season covering Creighton for the Omaha World-Herald.
“A lot of times, when you’re just starting out, you wonder if anyone is really reading or paying attention to you,” Lorenzi said. “Winning this award is validation of the work I’m doing.”
The Perry Wallace Most Courageous Award was won by Terrence Hargrove of Saint Louis University and Connor Odom of Utah State University. The award has been given annually since the 1977-1978 season, and was named after Perry Wallace, the first black athlete in the Southeastern Conference to play a full four years in a sport.
Odom, a junior walk-on for USU, has been dealing with anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and Lyme disease since he was young, and lost a whole year of his high school career to illness.
“All I can really say is, get the word out there, that mental health does matter,” Odom said. “From the outside it looks like you got it all, but there’s a lot of days where I’m hurting. So it’s just a blessing to get the word out there.”
Hargrove, a junior for the Billikens, has been vocal about his battle with depression. He lost 15 pounds at one point, but was able to recover and tweeted about his trials in December.
“I wouldn’t have made it here without my family,” Hargrove said. “Just supporting me, checking on me every day, and pushing me forwards.”
The Jim O’Connell Award, which is given for excellence in beat reporting, was awarded to Geoff Grammer of the Albuquerque Journal, who has covered the University of New Mexico men’s basketball team and the Mountain West Conference since 2012 and won the New Mexico Sportswriter of the Year Award in 2022. His work following the nightmarish New Mexico State season this year has drawn national attention.
“I’m in a part of the country that doesn’t get a whole lot of attention,” Grammer said. “A lot of people have never covered sports in that area of country, so to be recognized by this membership, it means a lot to me.”
Chuck Walsh, the Deputy Director of Sports Information at Florida State University, won the Katha Quinn Award, which recognizes people involved with college basketball who have rendered a special service to the USBWA and sportswriters who cover the sport. Walsh has been at Florida State since 2000 after serving a 12-year stint at the University of Maryland.
“There’s a number of people who have helped me here,” Walsh said. “People like Leonard Hamilton, Joe Blair, my wife. They’ve taught me the incredible value of relationships in this profession, and I’m here in large part because of them.”
As USBWA president Luke DeCock’s tenure came to an end at the conclusion of the ceremony, Brendan Quinn of The Athletic, who earlier won the Best Writing award in the column category, began his term as the association’s president for the 2023-2024 season.