Handlan, Becker, Habig Selected for OVAC Hall of Fame

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Three standout Wheeling high school athletes who excelled on the college level will be inducted into the 13th annual Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Hall of Fame on Saturday, August 13 at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling. Selected from the 1940's Decade is John (Jay) Handlan of Triadelphia High School. Picked from the 1950's Decade are Eddie Becker of Wheeling High and Neil Habig of Wheeling Central High School. Handlan and Habig will be inducted postumously. Additional honorees will be announced on March 27. The OVAC Hall of Fame, sponsored by the Robinson Automotive Group, and the OVAC Museum are located inside WesBanco Arena. Capsule summaries of the latest honorees follow: JAY HANDLAN (Triadelphia, 1946 Class)--He earned 12 varsity letters in five sports for the Little Reds during three years: three each in basketball, football and track, two in tennis and one in swimming. In basketball, the 6-foot-2 forward earned All-City and All-OVAC largest Class AA and was all-state mention. In football, he was a regular end and punter. After high school, he served three years in the U.S. Army before enrolling at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Va. Competing for W&L in the Southern Conference--then a major college basketball league which included West Virginia, Duke, Virginia, etc., and others which broke off and formed the Atlantic Coast Conference, he left his mark as one of the all-time most prolific basketball scorers in major college history. He became only the third major college player to score over 2,000 career points by capping his 94-game career with 15 points against WVU in his final game to reach 2,002. He averaged 21.6 points for his career. As a junior, he averaged 26.2 points to nose out WVU All-American Mark Workman for second place nationally. He also led the nation in free throw shooting (86.0%) and set an NCAA record with 18-for-18 vs. Virginia. He also scored a school, and Southern Conference, record with 66 points (49 in the 1st half)--then the 3rd highest-ever major college mark, against Furman. In that game, he took 71 goal attempts (made 30), which remains the oldest Division 1 NCAA record on the books. Handlan earned Helms Foundation All-America as a junior and was twice All-Southern Conference. As a senior, he also became a kicker/punter for the football team and was offered a tryout with the Cleveland Browns. He also lettered in track. He was drafted by the NBA Indianapolis Olympians but opted to play in the National Industrial Basketball League with the Akron Goodyear Wingfoots. He played four years and was an NIBL All-Star in 1954. In 2015, he was inducted into the City of Wheeling Hall of Fame. EDDIE BECKER (Wheeling, 1950 Class)--A four-year Wildcat basketball player, he was the most highly honored player on two teams which played in state championship games in the largest Class A. As a junior, the 'Cats finished state runnerup to Fairmont Senior. As a senior, Wheeling capped a 25-0 record season under OVAC Hall of Fame coach Everett Brinkman with the last of five titles and a state finals' win over Elkins, 53-50. Becker, a two-time All-State Tournament pick, earned first team all-class All-State as a senior as well as All-OVAC largest Class A and All-City honors. He averaged 16.1 points as a junior and led the 'Cats as a senior with over 20 points a game--rare for that era. He scored 20 or more points seven times with a high of 29 as Wheeling averaged 64 points a game. He also played football. Recruited by West Virginia U., he left his mark on the WVU record books. The 6-foot forward led the freshman team in scoring with a 25-point gait. The deadeye jump-shooter lettered three times on the varsity and ended a 75-game career with 1,127 points (15.0 ppg)--the second most in school history at the time. He averaged 18.7 as a senior when he was team MVP. He also earned All-Southern Conference second team and was seleted to the All-SC Tournament team. At the time he graduated, he was one of 19 players listed on the All-Time WVU Team charts. Becker resides in Florida. NEIL HABIG (Wheeling Central, 1954 Class)--An honored high school and college football player, he competed longer in major pro football than any Maroon Knight in history. As a prep senior, the Martins Ferry native earned first team all-star honors on every eligible selection: All-Valley "Big School", All-OVAC largest Class AA, and the five school All-City. Rated the "best defensive end" in OV by coaches who selected All-Valley, the two-way end and punter was the top blocker on a run-oriented team and landed four touchdown passes. The 6-foot, 190-pounder helped the Maroon Knights win their first-ever OVAC title--largest Class AA, with an 8-1 record. The lone loss was 13-7 to 10-0 record Benwood Union, the OVAC Class A champion which finished state runnerup. He earned a scholarship to Purdue University where he played both ways but was converted, on offense, from end to center. A three-year letterman and two-year, three-year starter at center-linebacker-defensive end, he was selected as team MVP as a senior on a roster which had 13 Ohio Valley products including OVAC Hall of Fame honorees Nick Mumley and Kenny Mikes. Habig, a second team All-Big Ten Conference selection, played in the Senior Bowl All-Star game. He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers but opted for the Canadian Football League. He played seven seasons (1958-64) as a center-linebacker with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and was a dominant player at his position. He was a CFL All-Star center in 1962, the first year this honor was awarded, and a Western Conference All-Star six times. As a linebacker, he was noted for his pass coverage and had 10 pass interceptions including six in 1963.
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