Bill Cartwright shakes a lot of hands these days.
He charms, he informs, he connects with people across the West Coast. The three-time basketball All-American at USF in the late 1970s is director of university initiatives at his alma mater, a fancy title for interaction. Cartwright aims to engage Dons graduates who feel a disconnect from the campus known as “The Hilltop.”
Cartwright can add another line to his already impressive résumé. On April 24, the Elk Grove High School graduate will be inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame with Russell Baze (horse racing), Carmen Policy (distinguished achievement), Kerri Walsh Jennings (volleyball) and Matt Williams (baseball). The 38th annual enshrinement banquet will be held at the Westin St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco.
“It’s really cool, a nice honor,” Cartwright said Tuesday. “I was really fortunate to be with a good (team at USF) and we were able to carry on a tradition from the 1950s (when the Dons won two national championships).”
2,116 Bill Cartwright’s point total at USF, where he is the all-time leading scorer
Cartwright spent part of last weekend in San Diego to greet USF alumni, and he’ll join the Dons’ basketball team at Saint Mary’s in Moraga for more engagements Thursday. The 7-footer wants to connect, eye to eye, while chatting about education, athletics and the Dons.
“Everyone loves to be engaged,” Cartwright said. “They want to be involved. If it’s ringing doorbells, I’ll do it – ‘Come on back, we need you.’ Saint Mary’s (ranked 21st in the nation) has had a good run in basketball. It’s been really positive. We’re looking to get a piece of that again.”
The Dons played under the national spotlight from 1975 to ’79, when Cartwright was the anchor. He was the nation’s No. 1 prep prospect after leading the powerful Thundering Herd to record heights. He resisted the temptation to jump from high school to the NBA – unheard of then – to attend USF, to grow as a student, a player and a man. His parents, James and Marie, stressed education and a strong work ethic, driving that point home amid 12-hour sessions hoeing weeds to reach sugar beats on the family farm near Walnut Grove and Thornton.
“I wasn’t going to go (to college) out of California,” he said. “That took everyone out except UCLA, USC and USF. Of those three, I felt good with USF, and coach Bob Gaillard was one any player could relate to because he was a player, and he went to school here.”
Everyone loves to be engaged. They want to be involved. If it’s ringing doorbells, I’ll do it –‘Come on back, we need you.’
Bill Cartwright, USF’s director of university initiatives
With Cartwright, USF went 93-22, including 45-7 in the West Coast Conference. In his sophomore season of 1976-77, the Dons started 29-0 and were ranked No. 1 in the country. A member of the USF and WCC Halls of Fame, Cartwright remains USF’s career scoring leader with 2,116 points. He played 16 NBA seasons, going third overall in the 1979 draft to the New York Knicks. He started on the Chicago Bulls’ first championship three-peat from 1991-93 and characterizes his basketball life as “amazing.”
Sacramento HOF – The fifth annual Sacramento Sports Hall of Fame induction celebration will be Friday at Thunder Valley Casino Resort. The inductees are:
▪ Dan Bunz (Oakmont High School, 49ers linebacker, two-time Super Bowl champion)
▪ Ken O’Brien (Jesuit, UC Davis, New York Jets quarterback, two-time Pro Bowl selection)
▪ Derrek Lee (El Camino, 15-year major-league first baseman, World Series champion, two-time All-Star)
▪ Buck Martinez (Elk Grove, Sacramento City College, Sacramento State, 17-year major-league catcher)
▪ Stacy Dragila (Placer, Yuba College, Olympic pole vault gold medalist)
▪ Patrick Underly (Del Campo, Special Olympics gold medalist)