Hall of Famer Spoon to be honored with his own USM day
Clarence Weatherspoon, a 2015 inductee into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, will be honored with Clarence Weatherspoon Day on Saturday, Jan. 30, in Hattiesburg.
Southern Miss plays UTSA in a 7 p.m. contest at Green Coliseum, where USM fans once packed the house to watch Weatherspoon become the the most celebrated player in the history of the old Metro Conference. From 1988-92, Weatherspoon made All-Metro four times and was the league’s Player of the Year three times in becoming USM’s all-time leader in blocked shots and rebounds and second all-time leading scorer to Hall of Famer Nick Revon. The ninth pick of the NBA draft, Weatherspoon — simply “Spoon” to USM fans — went on to a 13-year NBA career during which he averaged 11.5 points and 7.5 rebounds a game.
The first 2,000 fans to the game will receive a complimentary Weatherspoon mini poster and former Golden Eagle teammates, coaches, and staff have been invited back to share in Weatherspoon’s day. At halftime of the game, a special ceremony will be held recognizing and honoring Weatherspoon. As another special treat for the fans and in honor of this special day, bleacher tickets to the game will be rolled back to $6, the price from 1992 when Weatherspoon last played at Reed Green Coliseum.
The Crawford, Miss., native earned induction into the Southern Miss M-Club Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006 and the University’s Alumni Hall of Fame in 2007.
Tickets for the game can be purchased at SouthernMissTickets.com, by calling 1-800-844-TICK (8425) or by visiting the Pat Ferlise Athletic Center weekdays during normal business hours.
This was the article on Clarence Weatherspoon that ran in the 2015 MSHoF induction program:
Clarence Weatherspoon, the 13th of 13 children from the small town of Crawford, became one of the most accomplished basketball players in Mississippi history.
Tonight, he becomes a Mississippi Sports Hall of Famer.
Nicknamed “Spoon,” Weatherspoon probably was surely the most accomplished basketball player in the old Metro Conference. At Southern Miss, Weatherspoon was All-Metro all four seasons and was Metro Conference Player of the Year his sophomore, junior and senior seasons.
That becomes all the more impressive when you know that the Metro then consisted on the likes of Louisville, Memphis, Cincinnati, DePaul, Marquette, Virginia Tech, South Carolina and others.
“The Metro Conference was super-competitive at the time,” Weatherspoon says. “You knew you were going to play against the teams you grew up watching on TV.”
Weatherspoon’s jersey was the first basketball jersey (No. 35) retired by USM. He is the school’s all-time leader in blocked shots, rebounds, and minutes played. He came up six points shy of Hall of Famer Nick Revon’s career record for points.
Recruited and coached by Hall of Famer M.K. Turk, Weatherspoon led the Golden Eagles to two NCAA Tournaments.
Weatherspoon, from the same hometown as Hall of Famer Jerry Rice, attended tiny Motley High School. He broke his wrist in a p.e. class his freshman year, which limited him to four basketball games. That was the bad news. The good: He grew five inches from 5-feet, 10 inches tall to 6-3.
The next year, he began concentrating on basketball. He kept growing and improving. He attracted scholarships from several schools, but chose USM over Auburn and North Carolina-Charlotte, based on the competition he knew he would face and M.K. Turk’s fast-breaking style of play.
Following his remarkable college career, Weatherspoon was drafted as the ninth pick of the first round by the Philadelphia 76ers.
In Philadelphia, sports writers and sportscasters immediately compared him to Charles Barkley. In fact, they called him “Baby Barkley.”
Weatherspoon didn’t cotton to such comparisons.
“I wanted to develop my own identity,” he says. “A man has to walk in his own shoes. I didn’t want to be compared to anybody else. I wanted to be Clarence Weatherspoon.”
As a pro, he was a model of consistency for 13 seasons, averaging 11.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.
Spoon scored in double figures in 80 of 82 games for the 1993-94 Sixers. That season was statistically his best. He averaged a double-double (18.4 points and 10.1 rebounds per game).
“People always said I was too small to play forward in the NBA,” Weatherspoon said. “That’s what drove me. I knew I could compete. I knew I could do what I did at the highest level, and that’s what I believe I did.”
His record does speak for itself.