Niagara Gazette — staff reports
Niagara basketball hall of famers Juan Mendez and Joan Thornton will be inducted into the 2014 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Basketball Hall of Fame Honor Roll, as announced Friday.
In conjunction with the 2014 MAAC Basketball Championships at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass., the MAAC announced the latest class to be inducted in the MAAC Honor Roll, in which honorees will be enshrined in “The MAAC Experience” exhibit at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Each member institution of the MAAC will have one male and one female of its basketball “family” as part of the 2014 induction class. A private dinner event will be on March 8, 2014 at the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Court of Dreams to recognize the Honor Roll inductees, and the Honorees will be added to “The MAAC Experience” exhibit.
Each honoree will be profiled in the game program for the 2014 MAAC Basketball Championships and will be featured in a video display at The MAAC Experience. The honorees will also be recognized at halftime of the men’s championship evening quarterfinal round (session five).
Mendez averaged 18.0 points per game during his career, and tallied 2,210 points, fourth best all-time in the MAAC. He also pulled down 1,053 rebounds, sixth-most in conference history. The 6-foot-8, 245-pound forward was a three-time first-team All-MAAC performer after beginning his career in 2001-02 as an All-Rookie selection.
Mendez was the MAAC Tournament MVP after leading the Purple Eagles to the championship in 2005, after appearances in the finals in 2002 and 2004. In ‘05, he became one of just two Purple Eagles to be named to the Associated Press All-America team when he earned AP All-American Honorable Mention honors after averaging 23.5 points and 10.6 rebounds per game, joining all-time Niagara great Calvin Murphy.
Mendez was enshrined in the Niagara Athletics Hall of Fame earlier this month.
Thornton was the first scholarship player in Niagara women’s basketball history and the first to surpass the 1,000 career point mark. She scored 1,106 points and averaged 11.3 points per game during her career. She still appears in the Niagara record book where she is first in all time field goal percentage, hitting 62.1 percent of her shots.
During her career at Niagara, the Purple Eagles compiled a 84-19 record. She earned first-team Academic All-America honors in 1980, and at her 1980 commencement ceremony she was the recipient of the Kevin Mulkern Award, which is presented annually to the senior student-athlete who has the highest ideals of sportsmanship, competition and fair play, in the spirit of Niagara University.
She was elected to the Niagara University Athletics Hall of Fame in 1996.