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Mr. Gerald L. Hebert
412 Laurence Avenue
Lafayette, LA 70503
Athletic Development Director, RCAF
UL Athletic Department
|A native of Abbeville, I pitched for the Ragin' Cajuns baseball team and with the New York Mets organization. I also coached the Freshman Baseball Team. I chair the local committee for the Top 28 Boys Basketball Tournament which has been held in the Cajundome since 1997. Currently, I am the Athletic Development Coordinator for the university.
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37th Annual Louisiana Association of Basketball Coaches Awards Banquet
May 7, 2011
Embassy Suites Hotel
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
BATON ROUGE --- A former LSU star player, along with a long-time high school basketball tournament administrator, were the major honorees at Saturday’s 37th Annual Louisiana Association of Basketball Coaches Awards Banquet.
Inducted into the Louisiana Basketball Hall of Fame was Kenny Higgs of LSU.
The other major honoree was the long-time coordinator of the LHSAA Top 28 state basketball tournament in Lafayette, Gerald Hebert, who won the LABC’s prestigious Mr. Louisiana Basketball award. This award is given annually to someone who has made a significant, long-term contribution to the game of basketball at any level in the State of Louisiana.
Also honored at the banquet were Louisiana’s major college, small college, junior college and high school basketball players and coaches of the year, along with the top pro player from the state.
Higgs was a two-time honorable mention All-American, three-time second team All-Southeastern Conference and three-time All-Louisiana selection while at LSU in the 1970s. He was also the Louisiana Freshman of the Year in 1975. He finished his career as the third leading scorer in LSU history, with 1,896 points for a 17.9 average, and set a school and SEC record with 645 career assists for a 6.08 average.
Higgs averaged 13.7 points in 1978, 17.7 points and an SEC-leading 8.85 assists in 1977, 22.2 points and 6.65 assists in 1976, and 18.1 points in 1975. After college, he was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the third round of the 1978 NBA Draft and played three years in the NBA.
Hebert was the coordinator of the LHSAA Top 28 state basketball tournament at the Cajundome in Lafayette for the past 15 years. He was primarily responsible for transforming the Top 28 into, arguably, the premier attraction in the state involving high school athletics.
Hebert is best known for his continual efforts to enhance the overall Top 28 experience and to create a true Final Four-type environment for both the participants and fans alike. While in Lafayette, the Top 28 shattered previous attendance records, drawing 12 of its top 16 largest crowds, including the top six crowds of all-time.
The LABC also presented the Pete Maravich Memorial Award, honoring Louisiana’s Major College Player of the Year, to junior forward Patrick Richard of McNeese State. This season Richard was a first team All-Southland Conference, NABC All-District and All-Louisiana selection, while averaging 16.1 points and 6.4 rebounds and leading the Cowboys to the SLC championship. He had ten 20-point games, three double-double games and scored in double figures in 28 of 31 games. His single game highs were 24 points, 16 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 steals and 4 three-point field goals made.
Coach Dave Simmons of McNeese State received the Tommy Joe Eagles Memorial Award as Louisiana’s Major College Coach of the Year. In his fifth season he led the Cowboys to the Southland Conference regular season championship, the finals of the SLC Tournament and the first round of the NIT with a 21-12 record. This was the school’s most wins, first conference title and first post-season berth in nine years, earning Simmons SLC and NABC District Coach of the Year honors.
The Bob Pettit Award, which is given to Louisiana's Professional Player of the Year, was presented to Paul Millsap of the Utah Jazz. In his fifth year in the NBA, the former Louisiana Tech star averaged 17.3 points and 7.6 rebounds and shot 53.1% from the field (10th in the NBA). Millsap had 19 double-double games and had single game highs of 46 points, 18 rebounds and 6 steals.
Ryan Brock of Loyola received the Louisiana Small College Player of the Year award after being named a second team NAIA All-American, first team All-Louisiana selection and the Southern States Athletic Conference Divisional Player of the Year, while averaging 22.2 points (4th in the nation) and 5.1 rebounds. Coach Chad McDowell of LSU-Shreveport, who was named the Louisiana Small College Coach of the Year, directed the Pilots to a No. 4 ranking in the final NAIA regular season national poll, the Red River Athletic Conference tournament championship and the second round of the NAIA Tournament with a 30-4 record.
Tydrick King and Coach David Francis of Southern-Shreveport were honored as the Louisiana Junior College Player and Coach of the Year, respectively. King averaged 19 points and 12 rebounds and was the Miss-Lou Conference Player of the Year. Francis, who was also the MLC Coach of the Year, led the Port City Jags to the MLC regular season and tournament championships and to the finals of the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament with a 26-5 record.
2011 LABC Honorees:
Louisiana Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee: Kenny Higgs, LSU
Mr. Louisiana Basketball: Gerald Hebert, LHSAA Top 28 Tournament
Bob Pettit Award for the Louisiana Professional Player of the Year: Paul Millsap, Utah Jazz
Pete Maravich Memorial Award for the Louisiana Major College Player of the Year: Patrick Richard, McNeese St.
Tommy Joe Eagles Memorial Award for the Louisiana Major College Coach of the Year: Dave Simmons, McNeese St.
Louisiana Small College Player of the Year: Ryan Brock, Loyola
Louisiana Small College Coach of the Year: Chad McDowell, LSU-Shreveport
Louisiana Junior College Player of the Year: Tydrick King, Southern-Shreveport
Louisiana Junior College Coach of the Year: David Francis, Southern-Shreveport
Louisiana High School Players of the Year:
Class AAAAA: Javan Felix, St. Augustine
Class AAAA: T.J. Price, Salmen
Class AAA: D’Andre Martin, Richwood
Class AA: Ricardo Gathers, Riverside
Class A: Howard Wilson, North Central
Class B: Marvin Frazier, Jr., Zwolle
Class C: Zikiteran Woodley, Pelican
Louisiana High School Coaches of the Year:
Class AAAAA: Allen Collins, John Ehret
Class AAAA: Jeremiah Williams, Bossier
Class AAA: Juan Lumas, Holy Cross
Class AA: Greg Hill, Donaldsonville
Class A: Butch Fontenot, North Central
Class B: Randy Carlisle, Castor
Class C: James Holmes, Family Christian
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Old baseball guy Hebert honored for elevating the Top 28 tourney
Daily Advertiser, May 4, 2011
Top 28 tournament coordinator Gerald Hebert smiles as he talks about working with former LHSAA commissioner Tommy Henry, during a meeting with the Blue Coats for this year's event Wednesday in Lafayette.
Gerald Hebert did actually play basketball during his high school athletic career at Abbeville High in the early 1960s.
For the record, he described his participation on the hardwood as merely "taking up space."
It was on the baseball field that Hebert shined as an athlete. He was a two-time All-State pitcher at Abbeville High, played two years of college baseball at then-USL and later followed that with six years of minor league baseball in the New York Mets organization.
Hebert got the attention of the Mets by once throwing four consecutive weekend shutouts in a semi-pro league.
After his professional playing days were over, Hebert was a player-coach on a summer wooden bat league that finished third in the nation.
"We didn't really know who he was at the time, but we beat Roger Clemens 2-1 (in a regional tournament)," Hebert said
In other words, Gerald Hebert is a baseball man.
So imagine Hebert's surprise when he got a call from a representative of the Louisiana Association of Basketball Coaches telling him that he had been selected as the winner of the 2011 "Mr. Louisiana Basketball" award.
"My first thought was that they made a mistake," said Hebert, who is currently the Coordinator of Athletic Development at UL. "To be honest, I thought it was a high school coaches association at first. When I realized it was a college coaches association, I tried to talk them out of it."
For Hebert, it was just hard to imagine winning the same award as the likes of Joe Dean, Bob Pettit, Beryl Shipley, Leon Barmore, Dale Brown and Scotty Robertson.
"For me, it's kind of embarrassing when you look at names like that," he said.
While Hebert's baseball background may not fit in with those Hall of Fame basketball names, the award is given annually to someone "who has made a significant, long-term contribution to the game of basketball at any level in the state of Louisiana."
With that as the criteria, it's hard to argue with the selection.
For the past 15 years, Hebert has been the tournament
director for the LHSAA Top 28 boy's basketball state tournament at the Cajundome in Lafayette.
Under Hebert's leadership, the 50-year-old Top 28 Tournament reached new heights in attendance, community participation, atmosphere and hospitality for the players, coaches and fans.
More fittingly, another past winner of this award was Orvis Sigler, the father of the Top 28 Tournament concept. Hebert could be the father of the rebirth of the tournament.
"It was everything in a tournament that we had ever hoped for," former LHSAA commissioner Tommy Henry said. "So often in these tournaments, it was 'Here's the key to the arena, turn off the lights when you're done.' With Gerald, he's there the whole time making it happen. He got the whole community involved. For us, it was a dream come true really."
When Hebert took over the Top 28, there had never been a weeklong attendance figure above 49,000. By the time the tournament left for Shreveport after the 2011 season, it had gotten over 69,000.
In fact, 12 of the 16 most attended Top 28 tournaments in the event's 50 years occurred since the Cajundome took over in 1997.
It was more than just crowd figures, though. The Cajundome era brought an NBA-style environment with laser light shows, halftime exhibitions and fan-friendly contests. It also brought school-friendly accommodations with hotels, food and a check.
"I don't accept this for myself," Hebert said. "I accept it for all the Blue Coats (volunteers), for all the restaurant owners around the area who provided food for 15 years, for Greg Davis and the Cajundome, for all the businesses that sponsored every game and for the City of Lafayette."
The truth is, though, that the entire idea was all Gerald Hebert.
As the story goes, Hebert was attending a Top 28 Tournament in Baton Rouge with Danny and Rickey Broussard. During the conversation, the question was asked about the experience of playing at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Danny Broussard promptly explained that each school loses money.
"He told me that the schools pay for everything and that they got nothing and actually lose money for making the Top 28," Hebert said. "I couldn't believe it. I just asked him if he was kidding."
At that point, Hebert asked the Broussards what they thought about moving the tournament to the Cajundome.
"They just laughed at me," Hebert said. "I took it as a challenge."
A year later, the Top 28 moved to the Cajundome.
"I first got to know Gerald when he helped save the All-Star baseball games for us by moving it to Abbeville," Henry said. "Then he put on two of the most successful Hall of Fame games we've ever had. I've told Gerald before he could put on a major Mardi Gras parade in a phone booth."
The idea of improving events, however, wasn't new to Hebert. In the previous decade, Hebert had spearheaded then-USL baseball games being played in his hometown of Abbeville to provide revenue to refurbish youth ball parks.
Hebert also brought the state baseball All-Star Games to Abbeville, where he added such extras as skydivers, fireworks shows, Shaquille O'Neal being dropped down in centerfield and home run hitting contests.
Even before that, Hebert began an association with the LHSAA by hosting a Great Eight benefit high school basketball event.
"We've had a lot of good tournaments over the years, but none of them have been as consistently good as the Top 28 at the Cajundome, and it's all because of Gerald's leadership. He's very deserving of this award."
|Administration:|| 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020|
|Baseball:|| 1962, 1964|
|Ragin’ Cajuns Athletic Foundation:|| 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020|
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