BYU to retire the jerseys of Mel Hutchins and Roland Minson

(Photo by BYU Creative Design)

PROVO, Utah – BYU athletics announced today it will retire the jerseys of two all-time greats, Mel Hutchins and Roland Minson, during BYU basketball’s game with Portland on Feb. 16, 2013 at the Marriott Center.

Hutchins (14) and Minson (11) will join Kresimir Cosic (11) and Danny Ainge (22) as the only men’s basketball players to have their jerseys and numbers retired at BYU. Current and future players do not have the option to wear retired numbers. 

“It's a real privilege to retire the jerseys of Mel Hutchins and Roland Minson, two of the greatest basketball players in BYU history,” said BYU director of athletics Tom Holmoe. "Together they captained the 1951 Cougars to the NIT National Championship, so it's a fitting tribute that we are able to retire their jerseys in the same ceremony."

Among the criteria to retire a jersey are the following: All-America honors, recipient of a major national award, university graduate, minimum 15-year waiting period and significant accomplishments after graduation.

Hutchins, known for his defensive and rebounding prowess, is one of the greatest post players to suit up for BYU. In three years playing on the varsity squad, Hutchins led the Cougars to three Skyline Conference titles (1948, 1950, 1951) and the 1951 NIT National Championship. Hutchins was a two-time first-team All-Skyline Conference honoree and was named a first-team All-American in 1951 by Look Magazine, Converse, Helms and Sporting News.

As a senior Hutchins averaged 15.4 points and set a BYU single-season record for rebounds with 471 (12.7 per game), a record that still stands today. Known as ‘The Big Elf’ (1950-51 BYU basketball media guide), Hutchins earned a spot in the East-West game following his senior season and was named the game’s MVP.

Hutchins’ amassed 900 rebounds his junior and senior seasons to rank fourth all-time in career rebounding at BYU (rebounding records for his sophomore season are not available). Despite just two seasons of rebound totals on record, Hutchins is just 22 behind the all-time leader Michael Smith who played four seasons for the Cougars.

After graduating from BYU in 1952, Hutchins was drafted second overall in the 1951 NBA Draft. When No. 1 pick Gene Melchiore was given a lifetime ban from playing in the NBA, Hutchins was recognized as being the No. 1 overall pick and was given the $7,000 bonus that was awarded to the top pick in the NBA Draft.

Hutchins went on to win the 1952 NBA Rookie of the Year award and lead the league in rebounding (880) and rebounding average (13.3) that same season. A five-time NBA All-Star selection (1953, 1954, 1956, 1957, 1958), Hutchins led three NBA teams to Western Division titles. He concluded his NBA career with 4,851 points, 4,186 rebounds and 1,298 assists.

Before Danny Ainge and Jimmer Fredette, there was Roland Minson, considered one of the ‘cleverest floor men of his time who had uncanny court vision and deadly shooting ability (1950-51 BYU Basketball Media Guide).’ Minson donned the white and blue for the BYU varsity from 1948 to 1951 and led the Cougars to three-straight 20-win seasons, back-to-back conference titles in 1950 and 1951 and the 1951 NIT National Championship.

The guard from Idaho Falls, Idaho, earned first-team All-Skyline Conference honors three-straight seasons and as a senior received All-America accolades and was named the MVP of the NIT. As a sophomore in 1948-49 Minson was voted the most outstanding newcomer in 11 western states.

Known as ‘The Cat’ during his playing days, Minson concluded his career as BYU’s all-time scoring leader with 1,407 points, a record he held for 22 years until Kresimir Cosic surpassed him in 1973. As a senior Minson set the BYU single-season scoring record with 619 points, a record that stood for 27 years, broken by Ainge in 1978. Minson averaged a team-best 16.7 points per game that season en route to earning NIT MVP honors and a selection to the East-West All-Star game.

Following his BYU career, the New York Knicks selected Minson with the 16th pick in the first round of the 1952 NBA Draft. He chose to forego a NBA career to serve as an officer in the Navy during the Korean War. Minson’s basketball career continued as he played on the All-Navy basketball team in 1952, for the Denver Bankers of the National AAU league and served as an assistant coach to Stan Watts at BYU from 1961 to 1963.

Minson worked in the banking industry for 40 years and served as the vice president of Union Bank of California in Los Angeles from 1979 to 1994. Following his retirement, he and his wife Carol served three missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in England.

Tickets to the BYU vs. Portland game honoring Hutchins and Minson are available at the BYU Ticket Office or by calling 800-322-BYU1. The game on Saturday, Feb. 16, is scheduled for 7 p.m. MST.