INDIANAPOLIS (USBWA) The U.S. Basketball Writers Association selected its 2022 Hall of Fame class. The USBWA men's and women's basketball boards nominated and selected the following honorees: Vahé Gregorian, The Kansas City Star; Charles Hallman, The Spokesman-Recorder; Joe Juliano,
The Philadelphia Inquirer; Tom Kensler, The Denver Post; and Mike Waters,
Gregorian, Juliano and Waters will be honored at the men's Final Four in New Orleans, where Kensler will be posthumously inducted. Hallman's induction ceremony will take place at the women's Final Four in Minneapolis. With these additional five selections, the USBWA will have honored 100 men and women in its Hall of Fame, which was established in 1988.
• Vahé Gregorian: Gregorian is a columnist who makes you think and makes you feel. The Kansas City Star columnist has displayed his expertise in every sport, covering the Olympics, the World Series and Super Bowl in a 30-year career. As a college basketball reporter and columnist, Gregorian has covered more than 20 Final Fours, often chronicling the play that evokes passion and angst among Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri fans.
After spending 25 years at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Gregorian joined The Kansas City Star in 2013.
Among Gregorian's numerous awards and accomplishments: an Associated Press Sports Editors winner for large newspaper column writing in 2017, a Pulitzer Prize nominee and a multi-year winner of the Missouri Sports Writer of the Year award. He's also authored several books.
Gregorian is a 1983 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where he played football, and then earned his journalism degree from the University of Missouri's graduate school in 1988. He is considered the ultimate teammate among his colleagues and a role model among his peers.
• Charles Hallman: Hallman is a longtime reporter for the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder in Minneapolis, the oldest Black newspaper in the state. His coverage of women's basketball spans several decades from the prep level to college to the pros.
He is the longest-tenured beat writer for the Minnesota Gophers, while also covering the Minnesota Lynx since the team's inception in the WNBA. His work includes covering the entire playing careers of many Minnesota women's basketball greats, including Lindsay Whalen and Linda Roberts (the first African-American woman to have her jersey retired by the university).
A tireless supporter of girls and women in sports, Hallman frequently writes about overlooked and underrated Black female athletes.
Hallman studied journalism at Michigan State University and then worked as an editor, freelancer, teacher and journalist, joining MSR in 1990. In 2021, the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport included him in a Title IX honor roll list that highlights individuals' contributions to women's athletics in Minnesota. A friendly fixture at Minnesota games, one fellow writer described him as "Uncle Charles" for his willingness to lend a hand to young reporters.
• Joe Juliano: As a versatile reporter for more than 35 years at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Juliano has been a consummate beat reporter of Villanova basketball for nearly 19 total years and chronicling some of the most significant basketball stories in Philadelphia.
From Christian Laettner's shot in the 1992 East Regional final at the Spectrum to Kris Jenkins' buzzer-beating 3-pointer to win the national championship, Juliano was there. He covered Jay Wright's first two seasons at Villanova starting in 2001 and has been the team's beat reporter for the last 14 years. He also covered Steve Lappas' last four Villanova teams and Rollie Massimino's 1988 Elite Eight squad.
A Temple graduate, Juliano joined the Inquirer in 1985 after a decade as a reporter and editor at UPI. A self-described "utility infielder" among reporters, Juliano also has covered Penn State football, golf and the Penn Relays.
Receiving a heartfelt applause from the crowd, he covered his last Villanova game in December before retiring. A friend to everyone on press row, Juliano has been hailed by colleagues for his humble and dedicated approach to the job through the years.
• Tom Kensler: It's fitting that Kensler will be inducted into the USBWA's Hall of Fame in New Orleans. This is where he attended about 25 Jazz Fests and where he got down on one knee in Jackson Square and proposed to his wife Pam. Kensler, who died at age 64 from complications from a brain aneurysm in 2016, built his career to the west of the Mississippi River that drains from this city, covering the great Wayland Baptist women's teams for the Amarillo Globe-News, Billy Tubbs' Oklahoma Sooners for the Daily Oklahoman and bucking the pro sports scene at The Denver Post.
"Tom made sure colleges got coverage in Denver," said longtime Colorado SID David Plati.
Kensler's newspaper career spanned four decades. At 29, he was the first sports writer from outside Dallas or Houston to be named Texas' sports writer of the year and he became one of just three (along with Mike Downey and Dave Kindred) to win in three states. Kensler was a beat writer's beat writer, a stickler for accuracy who enjoyed the grind. He won or placed in game stories/spot news unofficially the USBWA's category for beat writers · four times from 2004-09, a number matched over that time only by John Feinstein.
And he was as friendly as he was competitive. Few enjoyed being a part of a gathering of sports writers more than Kensler, who always put himself in charge of finding the perfect restaurant on the road. It is telling that his nomination to the Hall of Fame was signed by five past USBWA presidents and that his funeral was attended not only by colleagues from the Post and friendly rivals from the old Rocky Mountain News, but by now-fellow Hall of Famers, past presidents, longtime members and sports writers from Charlotte; Columbia, Mo.; Dallas; Omaha; St. Louis; Seattle and, yes, New Orleans.
• Mike Waters: It's often joked that Waters' longevity around the Syracuse basketball beat is only surpassed by Jim Boeheim. Waters has covered the team for The Post-Standard since 1989, becoming a historian of one of college basketball's most storied programs. He quickly jumped into capturing the glory days of the Big East and all of its larger-than-life personalities from Lou Carnesecca to, of course, Boeheim.
Waters, an author of four books, has received numerous writing awards, including several from APSE and the USBWA, including the Jim O'Connell Award for Excellence in Beat Reporting. He's held several leadership positions with USBWA, including the organization's president in 2019-20.
A 1986 graduate of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Waters previously worked at the Nashville Banner and The News & Observer. Known for his ability to recall obscure stats and role players from decades past, Waters has attacked his beat with renewed energy and fresh ideas season after season from disappointing ones to championship years. "I've got my blinders on, my head down and I just focus on basketball," he said when he won the O'Connell Award.
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association was formed in 1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers. With some 900 members worldwide, it is one of the most influential organizations in college basketball. It has selected an All-America team since the 1956-57 season. For more information on the USBWA and its award programs, contact executive director Malcolm Moran at 814-574-1485.