January 30, 2012

Athletics Hall of Fame Inducts Five for Class of 2012

Contact David Beall, jdbeall@northgeorgia.edu

DAHLONEGA, GA – North Georgia College & State University welcomed five new members to the prestigious Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday evening, as nearly 200 people were on hand for the induction of some of the best athletes in school history.

The newest members to the North Georgia Hall of Fame are former basketball and baseball player Dewayne Patrick, former baseball player Leon Ricketson, former women’s basketball players Sue Haynes Malone and Morey LeFeve and former men’s basketball standout Willie Thomas.

The Athletics Hall of Fame honors individuals who have earned outstanding athletic achievement or made substantial contributions to the university. A nine-member board of directors is responsible for the operations of the Athletics Hall of Fame and serves as selectors for all honorees, based upon nominations.

Dewayne Patrick graduated from North Georgia in 1957 after starring as a two-sport athlete, excelling at both baseball and basketball. Patrick’s long-time friend Richard Colemon introduced the 50’s legend who is known as the “best of the best” by his classmates.

He was a guard on the basketball team and was an outstanding ball handler, dribbler and shooter. During his junior season, Patrick led the team in scoring averaging 18.8 points per game. He also played third base and was a pitcher for the baseball team.

He was voted “Most Athletic” by his classmates during his senior year and was awarded the Most Valuable Player award for company football in 1956.

Leon Ricketson graduated from North Georgia in 1965 and was the first athlete from North Georgia to receive recognition on the All-American level. The baseball legend was introduced in the ceremony by John Shope and a special audio message was also played by his former skipper coach Otte.

During his four-year baseball career, Ricketson caught every game for the Saints except two where he took the mound and had a 1-1 record. Ricketson had a career batting average over .320 and at the end of his freshman year he was approached to sign a professional contract with the Giants, but opted to return to school.

In 1964, he was named Second-Team NAIA All-American and received District 25 honors. During his junior and senior years, the New York Yankees approached him with a contract starting at the Triple A level, but Ricketson chose to finish his military career.

Sue Haynes Malone came to North Georgia as the first woman in the State of Georgia to receive an athletic scholarship and was introduced by her former teammate Brenda Paul.

In 1973, Haynes Malone played in and won the first-ever Georgia Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women conference basketball game in Georgia history and just a year later she led the Lady Saints to a GAIAW title. At the end of her collegiate career she held the school record for scoring and rebounding and played semi-professionally for Atlanta during 1976-77.

Willie Thomas came to North Georgia in the fall of 1980 as one of the finest men’s basketball prospects the Saints had ever recruited. The eye that spotted the talent introduced Thomas, as former coach and fellow Hall of Famer Bill Ensley told stories of how he recruited one of the best players in school history.

During his stellar four-year career, Thomas appeared in 122 games while scoring 1,976 points, grabbing 1,038 rebounds and making 822 field goals. When he left North Georgia, he held the single season record for field goal percentage at .645. Thomas is also second in school history in rebounds in a single season with 317.

During his tenure in Dahlonega, Thomas led the Saints to the NAIA National Tournament twice, received Second-Team NAIA All-American honors and was named the College Player of the Year in the State of Georgia.

Morey LeFeve graduated from North Georgia in 2000 and is the most decorated player in North Georgia women’s basketball history. Buffie Burson coached LeFeve to her 14 school records and the 18-year coach introduced the three-time All-American.

While at North Georgia, LeFeve scored a school-record 2,556 points, grabbed a school-record 1,326 rebounds and made a school-record 913 field goals.

She earned First-Team Kodak All-American and First-Team NAIA All-American honors her junior and senior years, while making Third-Team NAIA All-American honors her sophomore year. On the conference level, she was named GACC Freshman of the Year, twice named GACC Player of the Year and made the All-Conference team all four years. She also led the Lady Saints to three NAIA National Tournament appearances.

These five individuals join the inaugural class of 2011 that featured basketball players Brenda Hill-Gilmore and Jim Hyder, former basketball coach and athletic director Bill Ensley, and former baseball player and coach Bob Stein.

The induction ceremony and banquet were held as part of homecoming weekend activities at the university, which also included Saturday basketball games versus Flagler College where the inductees were introduced during halftime of the women’s game in front of a capacity crowd in Memorial Hall.