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Big 5 unveils stellar 2015 Hall of Fame class

If you were starting to wonder when the Big 5 would announce this year's Hall of Fame class, the news came Monday. And it was worth the wait. This year's class is loaded with marquee names.

If you were starting to wonder when the Big 5 would announce this year's Hall of Fame class, the news came Monday. And it was worth the wait. This year's class is loaded with marquee names.

The biggest headliner is Temple legend Pepe Sanchez, a two-time Big 5 MVP who still holds the Owls' assists-per-game record 15 years after graduating. He also still owns the Big 5 record for career steals, with a total of 365 that ranks third all-time in Division I. And of course, he helped Argentina win the gold medal in men's basketball at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

If Sanchez was a legend, then Penn's Ugonna Onyekwe was the ultimate Quakers cult figure. From the day he arrived at Penn, the Nigeria native and Mercersburg Academy product electrified the Palestra with his all-around skills. "U," as he was called by fans, helped Fran Dunphy win three conference titles in four years. He won Ivy League player of the year honors twice, and ranks second all-time in Penn history in total points (1,762) and field goals made (690).

(And it's worth noting that Penn only got Onyekwe because he wanted to back out of a scholarship commitment at Long Beach State after higher-profile schools started recruiting him, but he could only move to a non-scholarship program.)

Speaking of cult figures... well, here's hoping the Big 5 banquet is serving onions, because Bill Raftery is in this year's Hall of Fame class as well. You all know about his TV exploits over the years with ESPN, CBS and most recently Fox Sports. And you also know that he played for La Salle from 1960 to 1963. What you might not know if you weren't around at the time is that in his senior season, he co-captained the Explorers and led them to the NIT.

Last, but not at all least, is longtime Daily News writer Stan Hochman. He's been part of the paper's sports section since 1959, including a seven-year stint covering Big 5 basketball. Hochman also worked on broadcasts of games involving local teams, teaming up with Sonny Hill on the radio and Les Keiter on television. Nowadays, he appears on WIP and Comcast SportsNet in addition to his regular columns.

This year's banquet will be held on Monday, April 13 at 6:00 PM on the floor of the Palestra. In addition to welcoming the Hall of Fame class, the Big 5 will also honor its 2014-2015 men's and women's award winners. Tickets to the event are $50 each. Contact Steve Crider at the Big 5 office to purchase them - by phone at (814) 935-5015, or by email at steve@philadelphiabig5.org.