Vanderbilt is planning a special Hall of Fame weekend for September 12-13. A series of events will unfold over those two days, capped by the Induction Banquet Friday evening, September 12 and the Class of 2008 being presented at halftime of Saturday's Rice football game. VUcommodores.com will spotlight one inductee per day leading up to the Hall of Fame weekend.
A tall and unpolished freshman from nearby Lipscomb High School enrolled at Vanderbilt in 1963 to play basketball for Coach Roy Skinner and Vanderbilt basketball was never the same again. Attendance boomed as fans flocked to watch "Colossal Clyde" Lee lead his team to 65 victories over three unforgettable seasons and establish himself as the standard by which all future Commodore stars would be measured. Old-timers call Memorial Gym's second and third tiers "the balconies that Clyde built."
Lee, who still resides in Nashville, will be inducted with 11 others at Vanderbilt's inaugural Hall of Fame Banquet on Friday, September 12.
The 6'9 forward, who graduated as the school's all-time leading scorer at the time with 1,691 points (three years) and led Vanderbilt to its last SEC title in 1964-65, listened to the Commodores as a child on the radio and fulfilled his dream of donning the Black and Gold years later.
"I grew up in Nashville listening to Vanderbilt basketball and Larry Munson, and to me, that was the big time," said Lee. "So, to come over and play with some great guys and some great coaches, it was a memory of a lifetime. And to be nominated for the Hall of Fame, it just makes it that much greater of an experience. It has to be one of the top honors because Vanderbilt holds such a special place in my life."
Lee, who is also Vanderbilt's only consensus first team All-America selection in the program's history, has never been one for individual accolades. And to this day, he still directs most of the praise to his teammates when speaking of his own accomplishments.
"These type of things are a surprise, and I am very honored," said Lee. "But, I have to take a step back too, because all of the efforts were team efforts, so it's always a little bit embarrassing to be singled out as an individual when I was a part of a team."
The lanky Nashville native certainly made his team successful, as the Vanderbilt record book will attest. The SEC title team ranked No. 5 at end of year and a school all-time best No. 2 on Dec. 28, 1965.
His individual records are also astounding; he set school rebounding records that may never be broken, averaging 15.5 boards in his career, hauling in 420 rebounds in a season, 1,223 caroms in his three years and 28 against Ole Miss in 1966. He also holds the school record with eight 30-point games, his best a 41-point barrage against Kentucky in 1965. His number 43 jersey is also one of only three Vanderbilt jerseys that have been retired.
Lee still talks about his teammates, and he credits them for making the Vanderbilt experience as meaningful as it was.
"What I remember the most were the guys on the team.," said Lee. "The team that we had was the definition of team - if you needed an example, you could use them to illustrate. Each guy pushed the other one to be better, and no one cared who scored the most points or who had special honors, it was about who won the ball game. When we were on the road, if you found one of us, you found the rest of us, because we were always together. That's the best memory for me...the guys. We were a team, we played together as a team, we lived together as a team. It was a special group of people."
Lee and his wife Gail will be on hand to represent those teammates at the Hall of Fame Banquet on September 12.