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BASKETBALL: PA man nominated for NFHS, 2020 Texas sports hall classes

Igalious “Ike” Mills once scored 62 points in a high school basketball game for Nacogdoches Central Heights as a junior in 1970.

The game against Douglass is known as “The Miracle Game,” by Mills’ account, because a bookkeeping error following the final horn revealed the game was actually tied. Central Heights was asked to return to the court for overtime, and Mills made a short jumper to help the Blue Devils win.

Mills went on to average 36.6 points per game as a senior and become the first African American to receive a basketball scholarship from the high school.

Mills’ efforts earned the current Port Arthur resident and executive director of the Port Arthur Greater Minority Chamber of Commerce nomination for inclusion into the 2020 induction class of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in Waco. Mills’ nomination missed the deadline for the 2019 TSHOF class, which will be announced either this month or in November, but a final ballot is usually sent to voting members of the hall during June and July, according to a TSHOF receptionist.

Justin Mills, Ike’s son, nominated him for inclusion into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. A UIL representative, Mills said, nominated him for the Indianapolis-based National High School Hall of Fame, but Mills said he is unsure whether he is up for entry into either the 2019 or 2020 class.

“It is an honor to be considered for inclusion into the TSHOF,” Mills said. “I owe a lot to my family that worked with me in my early development stages as an athlete. I personally want to thank former Stephen F. Austin State University basketball player and former NBA star James Silas for being my mentor on and off the court. Basketball afforded me the opportunity to not only receive a college degree but most importantly inspire others to be all they can be.”

Mills scored 60 points against Woden as a senior and had a number of 50-point games that season as well, helping him earn a scholarship to San Jacinto College in Pasadena. He helped San Jac reach the NJCAA tournament and then landed at Lamar University, where he was selected second-team All-Southland Conference in 1976.

Mills became the first African American to receive a bachelor of fine arts degree and used his artwork to show sides of celebrities the general public otherwise may not see. His art featured sports figures including hall-of-fame running back Earl Campbell, football coaches Bum Phillips and Jimmy Johnson and former NBA stars Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Ray Williams and Silas. He also has artwork in the private collections of late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Queen Elizabeth II, late comedians Bob Hope and Johnny Carson and international artists Wilem DeKooning and Warren Brandt.

His greatest accomplishment, he says, is helping Williams during a time of trouble in his life. The 10-year NBA standout went from the big-league court to being homeless, but Mills gave Williams some financial assistance and Williams eventually got a job working in his hometown Mount Vernon, New York, parks and recreation department before his 2013 death of cancer.

Williams’ story is one Mills says he hopes to share with Lamar’s men’s basketball team and other youth grups.

Mills is married with two children.

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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