Gray, Neuenfeldt, Nelson, Bickerstaff, Mastro elected to Hall of Fame
After five-plus months of nominations, announcing the nominees and voting for inductees, it’s time to announce the Ultimate Hoops Hall of Fame Class of 2019. All five of these inductees are extremely deserving of the recognition they get today, as they beat out five qualified and impactful nominees to get the highest honor Ultimate Hoops has to offer. It’s always hard seeing who didn’t make it in, but that’s what next year’s process is for. Today is about the Class of 2019. Congratulations to the five inductees.
Bickerstaff became eligible in the Winter 2019 season, playing his 200th game just weeks before voting for nominees began. This clearly impressed the voters, as he got nominated in his first year of eligibility and is now a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
There are a few reasons why he’s being inducted, but three words will suffice: Ball So Hard. Bickerstaff co-captains the team with Terrell Suggs and brought the powerhouse to Ultimate Hoops for the first time in 2015, where they won the first of four straight Las Vegas National Tournaments. Even when their run was ended this May, it came in the greatest game in UH history. They have completely changed the landscape of the Las Vegas National Tournament, and Bickerstaff is the reason why UH Nation gets to watch and compete against them each year.
That’s the headline, but Bickerstaff has been racking up trophies since Spring 2015. He has 15 championships, the most in Arizona history, and he’s won them all over the place.
Scottsdale Open: 1
Tempe Open: 6
State Draft Tournament: 2
Gilbert Vet: 2
National Tournament: 4
The combination of national success and a championship resume is the reason why he’s Arizona’s first representative in the Hall of Fame.
Gray gets in on his second try as a nominee, and he represents for the voters that appreciate longevity. Gray is up to 624 career games in UH, the sixth-most of all time. That tops the list for the five inductees this year, and none of the other inductees have been playing consistently for a decade.
Gray played in his first game on October 11, 2009, where he scored 18 points in a 67-58 win for Miller Time in the Troy Open League. His most recent game came in the Shelby Open League last Wednesday, where he scored 27 points in a 102-85 win for Goblin Skillz. He’ll likely extend his career by playing in his 625th game tonight.
Much like Bickerstaff, Gray has a full trophy case, with 14 to his name, acquired over the span of eight-plus years. His fist came in the Summer of 2011, and his most recent came in the Winter of 2019.
Shelby Open: 5
Detroit Open: 2
Shelby Rec: 2
Shelby Vet: 3
West Bloomfield Open: 2
What may have been the main reason Gray is getting inducted is his ability to get a bucket wherever, whenever. His 12,752 points are the second-most in UH history, as he’s averaged 20.4 points on 52% shooting from the field and 42% from deep. What makes the scoring numbers even more impressive is that they don’t significantly regress on the national stage, which can be common in UH. In 15 career games in the Las Vegas National Tournament, Gray has averaged 14.7 points, but his shooting percentages are both better: 53% from the field and 48% from deep.
The G.O.A.T. of New York gets inducted after his second year as a nominee, and Jake Asman can finally consider our Hall of Fame legitimate.
When you think of UH New York, you think of Mastro, and there are multiple reasons for that. For starters, he’s the all-time leading rebounder in Ultimate Hoops history with 5,507 rebounds, 680 more than Chris Maher in second place. Mastro has played in 265 fewer games than Maher, 143 fewer than Antione Lynch in third place, 263 fewer than Ahmed Helmy in fourth place and 59 fewer than Paul Ferber in fifth place. He’s been able to do that by averaging 15.8 rebounds per game over the course of his career.
Not only does he put up great stats – he averages 23.5 points along with the 15.8 rebounds – but he turns those numbers into banners…15 to be exact. His have been less spread out than Gray and Bickerstaff.
Syosset Open: 11
Garden City Draft: 3
Syosset Draft: 1
Since the nomination process began, Mastro did a great job earning more votes through his play. In the winter season, he led all of UH Nation with a PPR of 46.0, averaging 28 points, 19 rebounds and 7.7 assists on 64% shooting. He followed that up with a championship in the Syosset Draft League in the spring, a season where he averaged 24.8 points, 18.2 rebounds and 7.8 assists on 55% shooting.
This one is pretty easy. Nelson came up with the idea for the Hall of Fame and got it off the ground in 2018, his sixth year of service as a contributor for Ultimate Hoops. He would’ve walked right in that year if he was eligible, but he had to wait until this year to get his seventh year of contribution. It only took a couple days from the nomination process to open for him to get enough points to become a nominee, and then the votes for him to be inducted flowed in.
He received 18 of a possible 20 votes (there are 21 voters, but Nelson is a voter and you cannot vote for yourself), making him an almost unanimous inductee.
Nelson gets in on the strength of his ideas, from the Hall of Fame, to the Dream League to the expansion of the national tournaments, but I think it has more to do with the relationships he’s built over the seven years at UH. Almost every voter has met Nelson from being at national tournaments, and those that haven’t have probably heard him on a podcast or seen him on a video. He was the face of UH for many years, and the voters all understand the impact he’s had.
Last but certainly not least is Neuenfeldt. Many voters, including Chase Skinkis, Reid Nelson, Izzy Elkaffas and Alan Arlt, believe not nominating Neuenfeldt was the biggest oversight of the first class of the UH Hall of Fame. Seven deserving nominees got inducted last year, but if we could do it over, Neuenfeldt probably would’ve have been one of them.
In a way, we do get a do-over, because Neuenfeldt was not going to be snubbed a second time around. Multiple voters came together to make sure he was nominated, and once that happened, we saw plenty of UH players, from Minnesota and Las Vegas respectively, pour in their admiration for Neuenfeldt. The rest of the voters got the memo, as Neuenfeldt gets inducted on his first time on the ballot.
I’m one of the voters who has never met Neuenfeldt, as he stopped working for UH in 2015, right around the time I started. It can be difficult to vote for someone you never personally saw make an impact on UH, especially considering how many deserving nominees there were, but it became pretty easy after hearing the respect everyone has for him.
“Las Vegas would not be what it is if it wasn’t for Joe,” Summerlin League Coordinator, L.C. Comine.
“Should have been in for Vegas before me, that’s for sure. Exactly what the Hall of Fame should be about,” Hall of Fame inductee and voter, Chase Skinkis.
“The man who gave me the nickname No Fly Zone, Joe we love you man, hope you know how much everyone appreciates the hard work you put into making Ultimate Hoops in Vegas what it is,” Travis “No Fly Zone” Scribner, the first player in UH to record 1,000 blocks.
Then there was the article Arlt did when Neuenfedlt got nominated, and it was clear the Hall of Fame was meant for a guy like Joe.