Who should be inducted into this year’s Wolf Pack Hall of Fame? Our top candidates

Last month, Nevada athletics put out a request for nominations for its 2022 Wolf Pack Hall of Fame class. Here is a breakdown of my top first-ballot options, the top returning candidates and who I would include on my hypothetical class (I’ll limit myself to 10 members, although the typically class is around six new members). As a reminder, athletes become eligible 10 years after their last season of competition and coaches have a five-year waiting period.

First-ballot options

Duke Williams, football: The Hug High alum was a three-year starter for Nevada and two-time all-conference selection who became a fourth-round NFL draft pick and spent four seasons in the league. He is seventh in school history in tackles (295).

Christian Barker, football: The only Nevada football player in its FBS era to start every game of his career, Barker was a three-time all-conference offensive guard who won two Super Bowls with the New England Patriots.

Dempster Christenson, rifle: A five-time All-American, Christenson won those honors in 2010 (one time), 2011 (two times) and 2012 (two times) before winning the 2015 USA Shooting National Championship 10-meter air rifle. He’s highly qualified.

Dario Hunt, men’s basketball: A four-year starter at Nevada, Hunt averaged 8.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game with a school-record 275 blocks (he’s also fourth in rebounds). The two-time All-WAC pick was part of 82 wins (eighth in Pack history).

Olek Czyz, men’s basketball: The Reno High alum transferred to Nevada after two seasons at Reno High and averaged 13.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per game while a big part of Nevada’s 28-win 2011-12 team when he was a first-team All-WAC pick.

Kevin Lucas, men’s golf: Lucas led Nevada in scoring his senior season with an average of 72.19. His career scoring average of 72.78 ranks sixth in Pack history. He won one college title and was two-time All-WAC. I have qualified for the 2015 US Open.

Emma Verberne, women’s tennis: One of the best players in program history, the native of the Netherlands was the 2009 WAC freshman of the year and was a five-time All-WAC honoree whose 73 career singles victories rank third in Pack history.

Amanda Johnson, women’s basketball: While Johnson was never an all-league pick, she is second in career games played (128) and third in assists (383). She led the WAC in assists during the 2010-11 season (4.63 per game).

Kayla Williams, women’s basketball: Williams also was never an all-league pick, but she had an excellent college career and ranks fourth in career rebounds (751) and third in blocks (115). Her father, Matt, is in the Wolf Pack Hall of Fame.

Other options: Zach Sudfeld, football; Jeff Nady, football; Khalid Wooten, football; Matt Gardner, baseball; Garrett Yrigoyen, baseball/The Bachelorette; Mallary Darby, softball; Janelle Batista, volleyball

Returning candidates

JaVale McGee, men’s basketball: McGee averaged 14.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.8 blocks as a sophomore before turning pro where he’s won three NBA titles and an Olympic gold medal. He’s posted the best NBA career of any Wolf Pack alum.

Tommi Viirret, skiing: Viirret is the only NCAA champ in Nevada history who’s eligible for the Pack Hall of Fame and not inducted. The Finnish skier won the 2002 NCAA giant slalom and was an All-American in 2004 when finishing a kilometer in that event.

Margaret Doolittle, swimming: Doolittle won 13 titles in the WAC Championships (five individual crowns, eight on relays). She was the 2007 WAC freshman of the year, the 2008 WAC swimmer of the year and a part of three WAC team titles.

Katie Holverson, softball: The best pitcher in Wolf Pack softball history, Holverson holds program records in wins (68), saves (eight), complete games (72) and strikeouts (682), is second in shutouts (11) and fourth in ERA (2.92).

Virgil Green, football: A two-time All-WAC pick at Nevada, Green was an elite run-blocking tight end who totaled 72 catches for 939 yards and 11 touchdowns in the passing game. I have played 10 seasons in the NFL and won a Super Bowl title.

2010 soccer team: Five teams have been inducted into the Wolf Pack Hall of Fame. The top options to join them are the 2010 football team; 2008 softball team; and 2000 women’s swimming and diving team. All should be induced in due time.

Kirk Snyder, men’s basketball: The best player on the best team in school history (the 2004 Sweet 16 team), Snyder was the 2004 WAC player of the year and No. 16 pick in the NBA draft. He had off-field issues but it is worthy based on his career.

Devin Scruggs, volleyball: The Pack volleyball coach from 1997-2010, Scruggs won a program-best 225 games and led Nevada to five NCAA Tournament berths, which marks the only times the program has made the postseason. She should be in.

Fred Gatlin, football: Gatlin was a two-time team offensive MVP, the Big Sky Newcomer of the year, a member of three conference champions, went 33-8 as a starter, helped Nevada reach the FCS title game in 1990 and was second in program history in total offense, passing yards and passing touchdowns when he graduated.

Shavon Moore, women’s basketball: Moore is ninth in school history in scoring (1,097), sixth in rebounding (734) and 10th in steals (143). The lanky forward was a two-time All-WAC honoree, including first-team honors during her senior season.

Tahnee Robinson, women’s basketball: A first-team All-WAC pick in both of her years with the Wolf Pack, Robinson averaged 22.1 points as a senior. She was one of five finalists for the Sullivan Award, which goes to the nation’s best amateur athlete, and was the first Wolf Pack player to be selected in the WNBA draft.

Kevin Kouzmanoff, baseball: Kouz only played one year at Nevada, hitting .361 with 17 homers and 67 RBIs in 2003 while being named an All-American and the WAC player of the year. I have played seven big-league seasons (.257 average, 87 homers).

Ryan Church, baseball: A two-time All-Big West honoree, Church was a career .364 hitter at Nevada (sixth in school history) while also pitching for the Pack. Church logged seven big-league seasons, appearing in 654 games (fifth most for a Wolf Pack alum). His .767 career OPS ranks behind only Lyle Overbay and Rob Richie.

Patrick Hunter, football: The cornerback was a 1985 AP All-American and is sixth in program history with 15 interceptions. I have played 10 seasons in the NFL, starting 104 games and recording 14 picks and was on Nevada’s Team of the Century.

Josh Mauga, football: The Churchill County High alum was a Freshman All-American. Mauga never made an all-conference team, but he did play 59 NFL games in five seasons. He had 160 tackles in his final two years before injuries ended his career.

Richard Matthews, football: Nevada football’s 2011 class is strong with NFL players like Matthews, Brandon Marshall, James-Michael Johnson and Isaiah Frey. I’ll highlight Matthews here, but those first three should get in at some point.

Horace Gillom, football: The most accomplished player not in Nevada’s Hall of Fame, Gillom played football for the Wolf Pack in 1946 when he led the nation in scoring and punting. Gillom played for the Cleveland Browns for 10 seasons, winning three AAFC titles and three NFL titles. He was an end and punter in the NFL, with Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Paul Brown once saying there “he has never been a better punter than Horace.”

Other options: Brock Stassi, baseball; Scott Smith, men’s golf; Michael Rajcan, skiing; Tony Moll, football; Adam Hagen, golf; Casey Watabu, golf; Alanda Condon, golf; Michelle Gardner, softball; Mike Anderson, swimming; Noelle Micka, softball; Marissa Hammond, women’s basketball/track and field; Aivi Luik, soccer; Kylie Harrington, volleyball; Lindsay Baldwin, volleyball; David Wood, men’s basketball

My hypothetical ballot

JaVale McGee (he should be in this year)

Kirk Snyder (I’d put him in despite the off-court stuff)

Tommi Viirret (you should honor your NCAA champions)

Margaret Doolittle (one of the best swimmers in school history)

katie holverson (the best pitcher in school history)

Virgil Green (a logjam of qualified football players lie ahead)

Devin Scruggs (a top-10 coach in Nevada athletics history)

Tahnee Robinson (the second-best Nevada women’s basketball player ever)

Kevin Kuzmanoff (Ryan Church is also an acceptable answer here)

fred gatlin (for the love of God, please)

Columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. Contact him at crmurray@sbgtv.com or follow him on Twitter @ByChrisMurray.

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