Heading back to the school that he led to the NCAA Final Four in 1996, Marcus Camby was inducted into the UMass Amherst Athletic Hall of Fame on Friday evening.
When Camby stood up to speak in front of the UMass crowd supporting him, he hesitated.
“I play in front of 20,000 every night, and millions on TV,” he laughed. “But this is tough.”
Camby played three years for the Minutemen, leading them to their most successful season in program history in 1996 when they posted a 35-2 record. That was the same year Camby was named the Naismith National Basketball Player of the Year. He helped the Minutemen win the Atlantic 10 regular season and tournament championship in each of his three seasons in maroon and white.
Though the Minutemen’s Final Four trip was later nullified due to Camby’s dealings with agents, his accomplishments on the court were incredible. The defensive-minded center left with several school records under his belt when he opted to become draft eligible following his junior season. He left UMass as the school’s all-time leading shot blocker in a career (336) and single season (128). He also scored 1,387 points in his three-year tenure, ranking him in the top ten in program scoring at the time.
Camby became the highest NBA draft pick in UMass history, being taken second overall by the Toronto Raptors in 1996. He has since gone on to play with five different teams in the NBA, and signed a two-year extension with the Portland Trail Blazers in April of 2010. He has been named to the NBA All-Defensive first team twice, and was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2007.
The center was overjoyed in “returning home” to UMass, and recalled his great memories playing for the Minutemen.
“I have great memories here, and entering the Hall of Fame is a great honor,” he said. “Being back on campus, seeing a lot of old friends, it was great. Now I’m in the Hall of Fame with [former teammate] Lou Roe, John Calipari and my idol, Julius Erving. It’s overwhelming.”
Check out his induction speech below.