Three Coaches to be Inducted into NJCAA Basketball Hall of Fame

Photo Courtesy NJCAA

Charlotte, NC – With over 1,800 combined career wins and 73 years of total experience coaching junior college basketball, the NJCAA Men’s Basketball Coaches Association has announced the induction of three prominent coaches into the Hall of Fame class of 2019.

Two current head coaches – Steve Eck of Hutchinson (KS) and Pat Smith of Moberly Area (MO) join retired head coach Jim Welling of Owens (OH) as the latest inductees.

The NJCAA issued the following statement regarding the inductees earlier today:

Steve Eck

Head Coach – Hutchinson (KS)

The all-time wins leader at one of the most storied programs in all of NJCAA basketball, Steve Eck currently sports an overall NJCAA record of 596-105 with 274 of those victories recorded at Hutchinson. Eck’s coaching tenure includes stops at Butler (KS), Redlands (OK), and Cowley (KS) before taking over the Blue Dragon program in 2009.

During his time at Hutchinson, Eck has guided the program to five national tournament appearances in the last six years- a list the includes the coveted NJCAA Division I National Championship in 2017 where he was named the Spalding NJCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year. In his first nine seasons with the Blue Dragons, Eck’s programs have won at least 25 games each season, including a 35-2 mark in 2016-17. The Blue Dragons have finished in the top two of the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference (KJCCC) each year and have captured a pair of region championships.

Eck also claimed an NJCAA Division II National Championship in 2002 at Redlands before the program moved to Division I status, a move that saw Eck lead the program to back-to-back national tournament appearances during its first two years.

Eck’s tenure at Cowley included a program-record 31 wins and a .911 overall winning percentage.

Along with a decorated junior college coaching resume, Eck also claimed six high school state championships from 1986-96, a feat that led to his induction into the Wichita Sports Hall of Fame.

Eck becomes the 10th Hutchinson-affiliated member inducted into the NJCAA Men’s Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

A Haven, KS native, Eck received a bachelor’s degree in history and physical education from Kansas Newman College.

Pat Smith

Head Coach – Moberly Area (MO)

Recently crossing the 700-win milestone for his NJCAA career, Pat Smith of Moberly Area joins the NJCAA Men’s Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

With a current record of 15-5 during the 2017-18 season, Smith has racked up 716 career wins throughout his NJCAA coaching career which includes stops at Lincoln Land (IL), Wabash Valley (IL), Barton (KS), Jacksonville (TX), and Trinity Valley (TX).

For his efforts on the hardwoods over the course of 33 years of NJCAA service, Smith has accumulated five NJCAA region coach of the year honors (two at Wabash Valley, three at Moberly Area). Smith has guided his programs to 10 consecutive 20-win seasons, five regional championships and four district championships while finishing inside the final top-20 NJCAA rankings on 10 separate occasions. Over 100 players from Smith’s programs have moved on to NCAA Division I programs.

Smith’s service to the NJCAA includes a multitude of responsibilities off the court as well. Smith currently serves as the NJCAA Region 16 Men’s Director and the Board of Missouri Basketball Coaches Association. During his time in Region 14, Smith also served as the NJCAA Region 14 Basketball Coaches Chair.

A Missouri Sports Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, Smith becomes the eighth Moberly Area-affiliated member inducted into the NJCAA Men’s Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Smith is a 1981 graduate of Bluefield College in Bluefield, VA.

Jim Welling

Former Head Coach – Owens (OH)

A two-time NJCAA national champion head coach, Jim Welling joins the NJCAA Men’s Basketball Coaches Association after a stellar career with the Express.

With 20 years of NJCAA service as a head coach, Welling’s tenure saw back-to-back DII men’s basketball national championships in 1992 and 1993 that culminated in the NJCAA Coach of the Year honor in each season. Welling also guided the Express to a runner-up finish in 1994 followed by a third-place finish in 1995. Along with Welling’s success at the national level, the Owens alum earned seven NJCAA Region XII Coach of the Year honors.

The ability to connect with student-athletes served as Welling’s calling. While at Owens, Welling graduated 86% of his student-athletes while moving 76 players on to NCAA Division I programs. Seven student-athletes garnered NJCAA All-America honors, including four first team recipients.

Welling’s remarkable career winning percentage of .812 included 19 seasons of 20 or more wins.

Welling joins his former student-athlete Jeff Massey to be inducted into the NJCAA Men’s Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Massey was a two-time All-American and national champion with Owens and left the school as the program’s all-time leading scorer.

A native of Northwood, OH, Welling received an associate’s degree from Owens before graduating from the University of Toledo.

The NJCAA Men’s Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame now features 156 current members since its inception in 1984. This year’s class will be celebrated at the NJCAA DI Men’s Basketball National Championship in Hutchinson, KS March 18-23.

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