It is with great pride and reverence that The Classic at Damien will honor the legendary basketball coach and "statesman", George Raveling, in the Athletic Center during the second night (Dec. 27) of the 2022 tournament.
Raveling (who turned 85 on June 27) spent his last six seasons as a head coach at USC. He has had a major impact on basketball - and those who coach, play and write or talk about it, in print, electronic or social media - for the better part of six decades.
Raveling was a "pioneer", of sorts, for opening the path for minorities to become head coaches - and not just in basketball - when he was hired by Washington State University as the first African-American head coach in the then-Pac 8 (and since, the Pac 12) Conference.
He took the Trojans, WSU and University of lowa teams to NCAA tournaments, coached numerous athletes who went on to play in the NBA and/or become noteworthy coaches themselves.
Raveling also helped coach some of the most iconic players in history, notably Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing and David Robinson, as a member of the 1984 and '88 USA Olympic coaching staffs.
His presence within the Nike organization since 1994, on multiple levels, helped elevate it to the plateau of the signature athletic apparel company in the world especially relative to basketball.
A veracious reader, writer and "communicator", Raveling is the source of sage advice - nearly on a daily basis - from dozens of prominent college and NBA coaches, including the likes of John Calipari (Kentucky), Jay Wright (Villanova), Shaka Smart (Marquette) and Buzz Williams (Texas A&M).