Adam Morrison highlights Inland Northwest Sports Hall of Fame 2022 Class
Oct. 25, 2022 Updated Tue., Oct. 25, 2022 at 9:22 p.m.
Former GU great Adam Morrison speaks Tuesday after being inducted into the Inland Northwest Sports Hall of Fame at the Spokane Arena. (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Adam Morrison’s name is synonymous with Spokane basketball, helping Gonzaga transition from a pesky midmajor program to national media sensation and eventually to a perennial NCAA title contender.
Now, he’s a Hall of Famer.
Morrison was inducted on Tuesday, along with four others, to the Inland Northwest Sports Hall of Fame in a ceremony at the Spokane Arena. It’s the first induction class since 2019.
Joining Morrison were former Eastern Washington football coach Dick Zornes, Mead volleyball coach Judy Kight, Washington State distance runner Bernard Lagat and Spokane Chiefs great Ray Whitney.
Longtime EWU sports information director Dave Cook and Central Valley scorekeeper and Greater Spokane League historian Bill Pierce received Scroll of Honor awards.
Morrison started as a lanky forward for Mead High School, setting Greater Spokane League records for points in a season (542) and career (1,904) and leading the Panthers to a state title game – scoring 37 points in the final and setting a tournament scoring record.
Despite that, Morrison received just one scholarship offer – from his hometown Gonzaga Bulldogs.
Morrison led the nation in scoring in 2006 with 28.1 points per game and shared national player of the year honors with Duke’s J.J. Reddick.
He was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2006 NBA draft and played parts of four NBA seasons, earning two NBA championship rings.
His play, though, was almost outshined by his persona – shaggy hair, wispy mustache and a heartening backstory, playing elite basketball while coping with Type I diabetes.
“There’s a lot of great athletes from this area that are, you know, in this hall of fame, so I’m excited to be part of it,” Morrison said.
He never envisioned this sort of thing growing up.
“I was just a kid that loved basketball,” he said. “I didn’t even think I was good enough to be a Division I player when I was like a sophomore until I started getting better and then it really happened.”
Current players in the GSL still look up to Morrison as an example of what can happen through hard work and dedication.
“There are certain obstacles you have to overcome to become a D-I player or good high school player, and I’m glad I could be part of that mold that people look up to in this area,” he said. “It’s honoring to still be talked about. I mean, it’s been awhile since I’ve played.”
He said he’s humbled to be thought as an ambassador for the sport in his hometown.
“I appreciate that honor. But there’s a lot of guys and gals that have done a lot for this area basketball-wise, I’m just happy to be considered part of that.”
When Kight retired in 2012 after 23 years as Mead’s head coach, she had amassed a career record of 583-150 (.795 winning percentage) with seven State 4A championships – five in a row from 2003-07.
Her teams won 10 league titles, 11 regional championships and had nine 30-win seasons with 15 state trophies in 17 appearances.
Kight was honored but surprised when contacted about the hall.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” she said.
“I Face Timed my daughters and their excitement was the thing that really touched my heart. They were so excited. And I’m very excited too. It’s a little surreal.”
Her face lit up when she saw her memorabilia cubicle at the Arena.
“It brings back a lot of memories and this whole process of putting it together has been wonderful.
“Sports just speak to our hearts and they shape kind of people that we’re going to become,” Kight said. “And that’s really all that I wanted as a coach.”
In his 15 years as head coach at Eastern, Zornes went 89-66-2 with a Big Sky title in 1992 and two FCS playoff berths. He also did two stints as athletic director, helping usher the Eagles into a position of prominence in the conference.
“It’s been a wonderful couple of days,” Zornes said.
“There’s a lot of people I haven’t seen a long time, guys showed up to be here that, you know, it’s really nice. I’m kind of humbled about it. It’s been a long time since I’ve had anybody want to talk about athletics with me.”
Whitney’s legacy as one of the greatest Chiefs is secure. During the 1990-91 season, in which he led the Chiefs to their first Memorial Cup, Whitney set a season record for points (185) and assists (118). He had 18 goals and 23 assists during the 19-game playoff stretch that season.
Whitney was the 23rd overall pick of the 1991 NHL draft and enjoyed a 23-year career in the league.
Lagat was a four-time NCAA champion in his three years at WSU – outdoors at 5,000 meters, indoors at a mile and 3,000 meters and as the anchor of the Cougars’ distance medley that set a collegiate record.
He was a 10-time All-American in track and cross country and won five Pac-10 championships.
In addition to his 32 years with EWU, Cook has also served as the results coordinator for the State 1A/2B/1B track meet in Cheney.
“I never imagined this,” he said. “I always wanted to advocate for others. I always wanted to get the honors for other people.
“I like to be behind the scenes, so this is a little overwhelming if anything.”
Keeping high school stats is a thankless job, but Pierce said he doesn’t need them.
“I enjoy it so much that I don’t need any thank yous,” he said.
A graduate of Central Valley, he was asked one day if he’d help out keeping score and he hasn’t stopped for more than 40 years.
He’s covered state and national championships for high school and club basketball and has been recognized by the state basketball coaches association.
“It’s a recognition, I guess, of all the years I’ve done doing the statistics for not just Central Valley, but the Greater Spokane League as well.”
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.