Dillard University celebrates 10th Annual Billy Ray Hobley Scholarship Gala, recognizes Sports Hall of Fame honorees

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NEW ORLEANS – A Harlem Globetrotter, a NBA Champion and the gala’s namesake are among the inductees of the inaugural class of the Dillard University Sports Hall of Fame “Best of the Best.”

The ceremony will take place during the 10th Annual Billy Ray Hobley Scholarship Gala on Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, at 7 p.m., in the Georges Auditorium on campus. The Gala is a part of the activities for the Blue Devil Classic, on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, when Dillard basketball teams faces off against their crosstown rival, Xavier University.

In addition to the Hall of Fame honors, this year’s Bleu Flame of Excellence recipient is Harlem Globetrotter Legend “Sweet” Lou Dunbar who has both played and coached for the organization for 42 seasons. The Bleu Flame of Excellence Award was created as a way to recognize athletic leadership and a commitment to excellence. Dunbar, a Minden, La. native, and Billy Ray Hobley both hold the distinction as a Harlem Globetrotter “Legend” – an honor only earned by a select few because of their contributions to the organization’s international success.

The Gala is one of Dillard University’s signature events and the proceeds provide financial assistance to deserving student-athletes who may not otherwise be able to attend Dillard.

“From the gala to the game, this week is about honoring excellence,” said Dr. Kiki Baker Barnes, Dillard University’s athletic director. “We are reminded that Dillard has produced some of this city’s and our country’s strongest leaders on and off the court. Dillard also has a unique relationship with the Harlem Globetrotters organization unlike any university in this city. So to have Sweet Lou be honored and in attendance is such a gift.” Barnes added that several former Dillard basketball players have gone on to work with the Harlem Globetrotters. She also said it’s important to celebrate the accomplishments of the University’s alumni as well as welcome so many people back to campus for the 10th year of the Billy Ray Hobley Scholarship Gala.

The University established the Sports Hall of Fame as a way to honor former school administrators, coaches and athletes who epitomize the athletics department’s mission of being excellent in competition, career and civic engagement. In addition, the Sports Hall of Fame will promote the rich legacy of Dillard alumni student-athletes.

Some of the honorees include Ariel “Mighty” Mitchell, the second basketball player from Dillard and one of only 11 women to become a Harlem Globetrotter; Melanie Davis, the first woman to officiate a NCAA Division 1; New Orleans native and international basketball player Alfredo J. Ott Davis; George Johnson, who played 13 NBA seasons and won a championship in 1975 with the Golden State Warriors; and Mattie J. Hobley, Dillard alumna and wife of the gala’s namesake, all embody the spirit behind the University’s annual gala.

Each year, the Dillard Athletics Department in conjunction with the ASK Billy Ray Hobley Foundation recognizes people who demonstrate a commitment to community service as well as represent the ideals of former Bleu Devil, Billy Ray Hobley. The Billy Ray Hobley Scholarship Gala raises thousands of dollars for Dillard University student athletes. Hobley starred on the Dillard basketball team in the 1970s and played for the Harlem Globetrotters for 22 years. He then coached the Dillard Bleu Devils and remained civically engaged until he passed in 2002.

The event is open to the public and serves as the kick-off for the Allstate Sugar Bowl Bleu Devil Classic Weekend, which is also commemorating its 10th year. The Bleu Devil Classic begins on Sunday, January 14, through Saturday, January 20 and the Dillard alumni game is a new addition to the festivities. Annually, this classic brings together family, friends, students and alumni featuring men’s and women’s basketball matchups against Dillard’s longtime crosstown rival, Xavier University. Both games will take place on Saturday, January 20, in Dent Hall beginning at 3 p.m.

Visit https://give.dillard.edu/2017-hobleygala to purchase tickets.

Below is the list of award honorees and recipients:

Legacy Award Honoree
Lewis Anderson
Mattie J. Hobley

Bleu Flame of Excellence Award Honoree
Sweet Lou Dunbar
Billy Ray Hobley Scholarship Recipient
Adriiana Jackson

Dillard University Sport Hall of Fame
Inaugural Best of Best Class Honorees
Melanie Davis
Ronald Henderson
Charles Hightower
Billy Ray Hobley
Pamela Jiles
George Johnson
Jackie Franklin McKinney
Ariel “Mighty” Mitchell
Alfredo Ott
Malbert Pradd

Visit dillardbleudevils.com. for full schedule of events for the 2018 Allstate Sugar Bowl Bleu Devil Classic and ticket purchases. For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Kimberly Woodard at 504-816-4696.

Dillard University, located in New Orleans at 2601 Gentilly Blvd., is a private four-year liberal arts historically black institution with a history dating back to 1869. For more information, please visit www.dillard.edu. Also, follow us on Twitter, Facebook @DU1869 and Instagram: Dillard University.

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