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Women’s Basketball: Perrot’s life in limelight

Hall of Fame recognizes former UL star

NATCHITOCHES – It took the better part of two decades, and in a way it took a tragic end to a too-short life, but Kim Perrot’s finally getting her due.

The former Ragin’ Cajun women’s basketball standout and leading scorer in program history is among eight inductees here into the Louis-iana Sports Hall of Fame. The honor, which comes officially at tonight’s 6 p.m. induction banquet at the Natchitoches Events Center, comes almost eight years after brain cancer took its inevitable toll in August of 1999.

Voting for the Hall of Fame is handled by a 30-member committee of the Louis-iana Sports Writers Associa-tion, and her induction might have come earlier if the committee had listened to the women’s coaches assembled here Friday.

"Only those that knew her realize how much she deserves this," said former UL coach Ross Cook, who came in from his Idaho home for her induction. "I’ve never seen a more courageous battler, flying in the face of odds."

Perrot led the nation in scoring in her senior season in 1989-90 when she averaged 30.0 points per game, including a 58-point outburst against Southeastern Louis-iana that still stands as the second-highest single-game total in Division I history.

She’s also UL’s all-time leader in assists and steals, both surprising since at that time the Cajun squads didn’t have many more scoring options.

"Literally, all they had was Kim," said former North-western State coach James Smith. "We played a triangle-and-two defense and the two were on her, and she was still scoring. As the game went on, I put three on her.

"One time when USL was shooting free throws, she was standing in front of our bench bent over holding her shorts, and she looked at me and said, ‘Put one more on me.’ I can still see her face telling me that."

Cocky? Probably.

"Once I beat her seven straight times in dominoes on a road trip," said then-Houston Comets coach Van Chancellor. "She told me she hoped the Lord didn’t take her before she gave me a whipping. She went and got a partner and won four straight times. The next day, I waived her partner."

Competitive and intense? Definitely.

"We used to go to the girls’ games to watch because they’d almost fight all the time," said former UL high jump standout and fellow Louisiana Hall of Famer Hollis Conway. "There are certain people that will find a way to make a play, and she could do that."

Ahead of her time? At least one coach thinks so.

"When you see the elite, the very elite four or five teams in the country, they’re screaming speed machines," Cook said. "That’s what she was 20 years ago. She did then what only the top handful of teams in the country are doing now.

"She could produce points when nothing was going right, and that’s something that teams are just now learning how to do. And she was such a good scorer that when she delivered the ball to another shooter, it was always on time and perfect. Only the very upper echelon do that."

Even with all of her numbers, Perrot finished her Ragin’ Cajun career in relative anonymity since the then-USL program was barely on the map. It was off to Europe, the only option available for most post-collegians.

"I’d see her when she was over there," said Conway. "She’d come to some of the meets and I’d see some of her games. It was exciting to watch someone like that, who was all over the place and gave everything she had.

"If you were going to beat her, you’d better bring lunch because you were going to be there all day."

Perrot played in Germany, Sweden and Israel before the WNBA began taking shape in 1997. Still, though, things weren’t easy since she had to work her way through a local tryout.

"I tried everything to cut her," said Chancellor, now the women’s hoop boss at LSU. "Later on, I wouldn’t start her, and we were three or four games out of first place when I put her in the lineup."

The Comets went on to win back-to-back WNBA titles with Perrot running the club from the point.

"Every time Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes or Tina Thompson screwed up, I blamed Kim," Chancellor said. "I’m not sure why, but I knew she could handle it. She’d struggled all her basketball life and wound up where she was."

Perrot and Chancellor formed a special relationship, one that happens frequently between a coach and the coach-on-the-floor point guard. The two did clinics and visited schools in Houston in the off-season, and it was in the off-season after the 1998 season that Chancellor got the phone call.

"I was on the golf course and our trainer called to tell me that Kim had cancer," Chancellor said. "In the early stages, she went after cancer just like she went after the ball. She believed with all her heart that she was going to whip it. And she fought it.

"Every time we talked, it was always how she was going to be back next year and what we were going to do when she was playing."

That didn’t happen.

"Her death left a void, not just on our team, but with our fans and with Houston," Chancellor said. "She made an impact. That jersey’s still hanging in the Toyota Center, and her spirit’s still around that team."

Perrot’s number 12 UL jersey and her number 10 Comets jersey are both retired.

"She changed the game with her longevity, and she improved at every level," Cook said. "Not very many players can say that."

Melinda Martinez/(Alexandria) Town Talk

Loretta Perrot, left, sister of the late Kim Perrot smiles up at Esther Jones. Kim Perrot and Jones were inducted into the Louisiana Hall of Fame Thursday in Natchitoches.

2007 Louisiana Hall of Fame Induction Banquet


An eight-member class will be honored tonight with induction into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. This year’s induction class includes two of UL’s all-time athletic greats in football’s Brian Mitchell and women’s basketball’s Kim Perrot.

The other inductees include football standouts Stan Humphries and Pat Swilling, baseball Negro Leagues standout Willard Brown, LSU track All-American and U.S. gold medalist Esther Jones, Tulane and NBA basketball great Warren Perkins and Southern Lab basketball coaching icon Joel Hawkins.

The eight will be honored at this evening’s Induction Banquet at 6 p.m. at the Natchitoches Events Center.

Tickets for the banquet are $25 each and are still available at the door or by calling the Hall of Fame office at 318-357-6467.