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Six North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame athletes from Asheville

Learn about the Ashevillians recognized as some of the greatest athletes in our state.

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The NC Sports Hall of Fame is located inside the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh.

Photo via Bob Crawford

On Friday, May 10, the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame will honor its 2024 induction class, spotlighting some of our state’s greatest athletes. This year’s roster includes one of the UNC Asheville Bulldogs’ women’s basketball superstars, Sheila Ford Duncan.

In honor of Duncan’s upcoming honor at the Charlotte Convention Center, we’re giving you the low-down on our state’s Sports Hall of Fame athletes who have ties to the Land of the Sky.

Sheila Ford Duncan

The first player in women’s collegiate history to score more than 2,000 points (2,442 to be exact), Duncan holds 18 records at UNC Asheville. She led UNC Asheville to victory in the 1984 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Championship, earning 26 points and 21 rebounds in the championship game and securing the title of NAIA National Player of the Year. Post-college, Duncan played professionally in Spain.

Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice

The legendary football star was born in Asheville in 1924. He led the Lee Edwards High School (now Asheville High School) team through two undefeated seasons, then joined the Navy after graduating. When he returned from service, Justice turned down a pro football contract to start college and played four years at UNC Chapel Hill. After racking up a plethora of accolades in college ball, including the title of MVP of the 1950 College All-Star Game, Justice went pro with the team now known as the Washington Commanders and later returned to UNC Chapel Hill as an assistant coach.

Henry Logan

The Asheville native averaged more than 30 points per game during his career as an All-American guard at Western Carolina University in 1967 and 1968, and he remains the school’s top scorer with 3,290 points over his career. Logan is believed to be the first African American player to play at a predominately white college in the Southeast. He later went on to play professionally for the Oakland Oaks of the American Basketball Association (ABA), where he helped lead the team to earning the 1969 ABA Championship.

Lightpost banners advertising the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame

The hall celebrates our state’s greatest athletes.

Photo via Bob Crawford

Tom Higgins

Born in Burnsville, Higgins was an influential journalist, beginning his career at the Canton Enterprise in 1957. He later wrote for the Asheville Times, where he began covering racing. Later on during his career at the Charlotte Observer, Higgins became the first journalist to cover each race on the NASCAR schedule, which earned him a spot in the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2015.

Joe West

The longest-tenured umpire in MLB history hails from Asheville (even if he spent most of his childhood in Greenville, NC). West has more than 40 seasons under his belt and has officiated six World Series games, nine league championship series, and three All-Star games. We have a feeling his WNC roots may have inspired his country music career, earning him the nickname “Cowboy Joe.”

Roy Williams

Widely known for serving as head coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Kansas Jayhawks, Williams grew up in Asheville. He lettered in both basketball and baseball at T.C. Roberson High School and later went on to coach the Owen High School team for five seasons, before joining the coaching staff at UNC Chapel Hill in 1977 under Dean Smith.

Did you know that our neck of the woods also has a regional sports hall of fame? Each year, the Mountain Amateur Athletic Club recognizes the top players of our region, inducting them into the Western North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame — see some of the athletes included.

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