Selvy was special player for Furman

sports@macon.comFebruary 10, 2014 

Thursday marks the 60th anniversary of Furman basketball player Frank Selvy’s 100-point game against Newberry.

Selvy, whose birth certificate name is Franklin Delano Selvy in honor of the nation’s 32nd president, is the lone player from a Division I program to reach the century mark in a single game. A first-team All-American, Selvy led the nation in scoring that season with a 41.7-point average. His 100-point effort included 41 field goals and 18 free throws. His final two points of the game came on a 40-foot shot at the buzzer.

That Furman-Newberry meeting was designated “Frank Selvy Night” and was the first live telecast of a basketball game in South Carolina.

His 100 points against Newberry took Mercer off the hook as the opponent that allowed him to score the most points. During Selvy’s junior season, he scored 63 points against the Bears in a game played at Textile Hall in Greenville, S.C., as the Purple Hurricanes (since renamed the Paladins) defeated the Bears 114-93. He made 21 free throws and 21 field goals in that win. Mercer was led by Bill Harris with 23 points and Tommy Mixon with 21.

Mercer had beaten Selvy and Furman to open the 1952-53 campaign in Macon 73-64 behind a 21-point effort from Richard Reid and an 18-point game from Auburn transfer Inman “Coot” Veal. Selvy was held to just 18 points.

Even though the schools are only separated by about 250 miles and both have Baptist roots, Mercer and Furman have only played on the hardwood 15 times, with Furman holding an 8-7 edge.

One of the best college basketball games I ever witnessed in person featured Mercer and Furman back in the 1972-73 season. Mercer outlasted the Paladins and 7-footer Fessor Leonard 118-115, overcoming a nine-point deficit during the final seven minutes of the game. Mercer won despite Furman hitting 59 percent of its shots from the field and being outrebounded 51-41.

Following the game, the Mercer team returned to Macon to be greeted by a 10-inch snowfall, one of the largest in the city’s history.

The Mercer-Furman rivalry takes on a different look at the start of the 2014-15 academic year when Mercer joins the Southern Conference, of which Furman has been a member since 1936, when the teams will play twice annually in basketball.

Selvy is easily the best player to ever play at Furman, where he was a two-time Southern Conference player of the year. In his three-year varsity career, the Corbin, Ky., product scored more than 2,500 points and had a career average of 32.5 points. After Selvy grew 3 inches, Kentucky head coach Adolph Rupp gave Selvy a late offer, but Selvy already had accepted a scholarship to Furman and kept his commitment.

He was the first overall pick in the 1954 NBA draft by the Baltimore Bullets and went on to a nine-year career in that league, spending the majority of his career with the Milwaukee/St. Louis Hawks and the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers, playing with Jerry West and Elgin Baylor. His NBA playing career was interrupted by a three-year stint in the U.S. Army.

During his NBA career, Selvy scored 6,120 points (10.8 points per game), had 2,097 rebounds (3.7 per game) and dished out 1,569 assists (2.8 per game). Selvy was a two-time NBA all-star, being named in both 1955 and 1962.

Bobby Pope is the executive director of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. Email him at bobbypope428@gmail.com

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