TWO legends of Cork basketball will be inducted into the Basketball Ireland Hall of Fame this year.
Homegrown hero Timmy McCarthy and American ace Lennie McMillian will be honoured along with Mary Baneham and Karen Hennessy in the class of 2023. The dynamic duo join Leesiders Caroline Forde and Tom Wilkinson in the Hall of Fame.
Timmy McCarthy is best known to the modern generation as a colourful RTÉ commentator, alongside Ger Canning for National Cup finals, and in bringing the Olympics to our screens. His cry of 'from way downtown' to signal a three-pointer is his most famous catchphrase and he was celebrating the distance shot well before NBA superstar Steph Curry changed the game.
McCarthy has touched every area of Irish basketball though, from playing and coaching to broadcasting and promoting hoops since the 1970s.
There were also three National Championships, a National Cup success and Player of the Year honours.
He had stood out at underage level with Iona and GH74 before blossoming into one of the outstanding Irish players of the 1980s at Demons.
After retiring at the peak of his powers in 1990 he became a crafty and successful coach, mirroring his playing days, winning the Roy Curtis International Tournament and an U19 National Cup with Demons and a maiden Superleague crown with Tralee Tigers in 1996.
McCarthy was head coach of the Irish U16 girls team at the 1998 European Championships and three years later oversaw the senior men’s team in the European championship qualifiers before commentating took over.
McCarthy played with Lennie McMillian at Demons in 1981, before the Georgia native switched to rivals Neptune and his high-scoring propelled 'Burgerland' to their first league. He'd later excel with another Cork club, North Mon and ensure they became the only Division 2 side to capture the National Cup, in 1995, and add three more cups at Notre Dame in the late '90s.
McMillian's longevity in Irish basketball rivals Jerome Westbrooks while his ability at both ends of the floor mean he's one of the greatest Americans to ever hit the hardwood across the Atlantic.
A standout Division 1 college player with University of Pittsburgh, he averaged 29 points in his first season in Ireland with Demons and then 30 points per game with Neptune.
Along with Bob Stephens he formed one of the greatest tandems in league history to help newly-promoted North Monastery come within a whisker of winning the title, while in 1986 he’d propel St Vincent’s Cork to a Division 2 Top Four trophy, scoring 41 points in the final. He played into his 40s with a variety of clubs, though his stints with North Mon and Notre Dame stand out.
Married to Cork native Tina with whom he has five children and five grandchildren, and renowned on the scene for his devilment and fun, McMillian has for decades also coached in camps, schools and clubs, such as Ongar Chasers and Alexandra College in recent years.