(Photo by BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)
PROVO, Utah – BYU legends Mel Hutchins and Roland Minson joined Danny Ainge and Kresimir Cosic as the only Cougar men’s basketball players to have their jerseys retired during halftime of Saturday’s 86-72 win over Portland.
“I feel like we played such a long time ago and we didn’t expect this,” Hutchins said. ”We saw Stan Watts get into the Hall of Fame and thought how great that was but never thought this would be us.”
The honorees were joined by their families and members of the 1951 NIT Championship team at the ceremony.
“It’s definitely a big surprise,” Minson said. “We played way back when we still wore those funny shorts. The thing that’s been nicest for me about all this is to renew those old memories, all those good times.”
‘Voice of the Cougars’ Greg Wrubell kicked off the ceremony by reading a letter from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. In the letter, Elder Holland described listening to games on the radio as a 10-year old boy during the 1950-51 championship run.
Hutchins and Minson each spoke a few words to the crowd in front of their framed jerseys.
“Looking back we’ve been able to realize how great of a time we had here and what a great place it was,” Minson said. “All of us have stories and it’s been fun to reminisce.”
Both players will be remembered, among many other things, for his role on the 1951 NIT Championship team under head coach Stan Watts
“Stan Watts was the kind of man you’d like to have as a father for what he did for the basketball program,” Hutchins said. “He never said ‘no’ to practice. Stan pushed us so hard on defense that we would stop a team from making any points.”
Their now retired jersey numbers were unveiled in the rafters after athletic director Tom Holmoe wrapped up the celebration.
“I’ve been around a lot of teams but I can honestly say that this team is one of the greatest and these two men are the great leaders of it,” Holmoe said. “I know it’s special for them to have this individual honor but this means a lot for the team and their families too.”
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.
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.