Former NBA big man Ben Wallace made history recently after becoming the first undrafted player to be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. It's really quite an accomplishment for someone who came from the small town of White Hall in Alabama.
Wallace was a defensive menace during his prime, winning as Defensive Player of the Year four times. He, however, wasn't gifted offensively. His career scoring average is less than six points. This became a point of contention for some who weren't so convinced that he deserves to be in the HOF.
But apparently, Wallace's selection was also made possible by a group of high school students who formed an analytics team to make a strong case for the former Detroit Pistons star. The six young Big Ben fans were from Armstrong High School, a short drive from Virginia Union University, Wallace's alma mater (via David Steele of The Undefeated).
Those students, who made up the high school’s sports analytics club, had spent much of the previous year meeting with teachers, a Virginia Union professor and the Pistons’ senior director of analytics Dan Rosenbaum to crunch the numbers that they hoped would convince Hall of Fame voters to make Wallace a member, even though he averaged just 5.7 points a game in his 16-year career.
According to Steele, the students were taught the advanced metrics used by NBA teams and applied them to Wallace's numbers. In the end, they discovered that Wallace's metrics were even better than other HOF members such as Dennis Rodman and Dikembe Mutombo.
Ben Wallace was always an underdog and it's only appropriate that an unknown crew of students helped him reach a great milestone.