Southern basketball’s Daryl Battles stepped to the free throw line with two seconds left in overtime against Texas Southern. If he makes his shots, the Jaguars win the Southwestern Conference Championship and earn a trip to the NCAA tournament. If he doesn’t, an entire season of proving their skeptics wrong goes down the drain.
A few weeks later, Battles and Southern travelled to Atlanta to play North Carolina in the first round of the Big Dance.
“That was one of my fondest memories,” Battles said. “We had taken them to overtime, we were down by one with two or three seconds left and I made both of my free throws and we won the game.”
Twenty-five years later, Battles, who said he often recalls the memory while working with his basketball mentorship program in Atlanta, is being inducted into the Southern University Hall of Fame on Friday night along with 13 other inductees.
A two-sport athlete, Battles earned first team All-SWAC honors in his senior season after finishing No. 3 in the nation with 13.5 rebounds per game.
The former forward said he remains close to the program to this day, driving to any basketball game within driving distance and participating in the annual alumni basketball game in January.
It was actually on his way to a class reunion that Battles discovered he would be the newest inductee to the Hall of Fame — even if he thought it was a mistake at first.
“I feel honored, privileged, blessed to be one of the inductees (Friday) night,” Battles said. “I want to thank the Southern University family for allowing me to mature and become a man on their campus on the Bluff.”
Battles is joined by several other former Jaguars athletes in the 2014 induction class. Jimmy McNeal and former track and field scorekeeper John Brother Cade are the only non-athletes being enshrined.
Former Southern quarterback Quincy Richard also headlines the group as the last quarterback before Dray Joseph to lead the Jaguars to a SWAC championship when he did so in 2003.
Richard was named the 2003 SWAC Offensive Player of the Year, First Team Black College All-American and 2003 A.S. “Jake” Gaither Award, which is referred to as the Heisman Trophy of black college athletes.
But Richard, now a practicing lawyer in Baton Rouge, said his proudest moment was in the Bayou Classic when he threw for more than 500 yards in a shootout that ended with a Southern win against rival Grambling.
“The ’03 Classic felt like a track meet,” Richard said, “That game was for all the marbles. The winner of that game would go to the SWAC championship.
“They always say, if you’re only going to win one game, make it the Bayou Classic.”
A decade later, Richard said his induction doesn’t seem real. He never thought something like this was possible when he first stepped on campus in 1999.
“I don’t know if it’s sunk in yet,” Richard said. “When you go in as a freshman, you always want to be the best you can, but you look at some of the greats Southern had — you never see yourself as being in their company. That I will be in their company hasn’t sunk in yet.”
The rest of the class includes Harvey A. Dority and Zebedee Ducre, members of the 1965 SWAC basketball championship team; Lee Dell Woods, 1975 SWAC basketball tournament champion; Verdis Theus, member of 1960 Black College Football national championship team; William “Bill” Blount, football; David Geralds, former NFL player for the Houston Oilers and Detroit Lions; Esau Lolis, Southern record holder in 3-mile race; Donald Anthony “Don” Haines, started first baseball program at Southern in New Orleans; and Sheldon Dennard and Major Lester Harris, football.