Remembering a Basketball Legend
Jim McDaniels, a 7-foot center from just down the road in Scottsville, Kentucky, finished
his WKU career with 2,238 points, which ties for the all-time program record. Before
he arrived on The Hill, McDaniels averaged nearly 40 points per game as a senior at
Allen County High School and was named Kentucky Mr. Basketball in 1967.
McDaniels ranks first in WKU history in career field goals (935), career scoring average (27.6 points per game) and double-doubles (74), second in rebounding average (13.1 per game) and field goals attempted (1,763), fourth in total rebounds (1,118) and ninth in made free throws (368).
McDaniels was one of just two WKU All-Americans who were honored as such in each year of their Hilltopper careers. The big man is the only person in WKU Hilltopper Basketball history to be named a first-team All-American by three or more organizations in the same season when six picked him after the 1971 season. And, he is one of just three former Toppers honored as NCAA "consensus" All-Americans. He and Clem Haskins (1967) were first-team consensus picks and Tom Marshall (1954) was a second-team consensus selection.
McDaniels was also named Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year in 1969-70 and 1970-71 and was an All-OVC selection in each of his three varsity seasons.
The Hilltoppers went a combined 62-19 during McDaniels' time with the program under head coach John Oldham, advancing to the NCAA Tournament in each of his last two years, including a run to a third-place finish in the Final Four in 1971.
McDaniels is one of eight former WKU players to have their jersey retired and hung in the rafters at E.A. Diddle Arena.
After his college career ended, he played professionally in both the NBA and ABA from 1971-78.
McDaniels was a charter member of the WKU Athletic Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame, the Dawahares/KHSAA Hall of Fame, and the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame.
McDaniels continued to live in Bowling Green and remained around the Hilltopper program through the years, addressing the team on numerous occasions and coaching a squad of former WKU stars against a team of ex-Kentucky players in an all-star exhibition at Diddle Arena in 2011.
Jim was also a devoted husband to his wife Carolyn and his children: sons Shannon and Eskias, and daughter Lydia.
After an incredible career and legacy, Jim passed away on the evening of September 6, 2017 in Bowling Green. He was 69.
"Jim McDaniels was a legendary and iconic figure in the annals of Western Kentucky basketball," WKU Director of Athletics Todd Stewart said. "His Hall of Fame accomplishments resulted in the most successful period in our program's rich history and favorably impacted the Hilltopper Nation and college basketball fans throughout the nation. Our thoughts and prayers are with Jim and his family. RIP Big Mac."
To honor that legacy, the Jim McDaniels Scholarship Fund exists to provide help to deserving students. Through this fund the WKU basketball legend’s memory will live on in perpetuity.
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