|September 12, 2011 -
The City of Knoxville renamed Union Square Park in honor of the late Paul Hogue - a Knoxville native who helped lead the University of Cincinnati to two NCAA basketball championships - during a ceremony on Saturday at the park.
Hogue, who starred at Knoxville's Austin High School in the late 1950s and also played in the National Basketball Association, died in 2009 at the age of 69. He was selected as the MVP of the 1962 NCAA Tournament.
Mr. Hogue's wife, Patricia (Patti) Hogue, and their children, Eric Hogue, U.S. Navy Cmdr. Paul Hogue Jr., Thomas Hogue and Melanie Hogue, unveiled a replica of a bronze plaque memorializing Mr. Hogue that will be installed at the park. They were joined at the morning event by many family members and friends from Knoxville and the Cincinnati area.
Mayor Daniel Brown, Commander Hogue, Charles Beal, Mr. Hogue's teammate at Austin High School; George Wilson, a teammate from the University of Cincinnati; Garrick Berkhalter, a family friend from the Village of Woodlawn, Ohio; Avon Rollins from the Beck Cultural Center and Joe Walsh, the city's Parks and Recreation Director spoke during the event.
The small park, which will now be known as Paul Hogue Park, is located at 500 S. Chestnut Street. It's across the street from Hogue family home and it's where Mr. Hogue spent many hours playing basketball while growing up.
Mayor Daniel Brown, who is also the City Councilman for the Sixth District, made the request for the name change to the city's Public Property Naming Committee and it was later approved by City Council.
Brown said Saturday that Ronald Wade initially approached him about naming something in the park for Hogue.
He said Saturday that Hogue brought great honor to Knoxville not only through basketball but also by the way he lived his life.
"He was an All-American off the court too," Brown said during the ceremony, "though they don't give MVP awards for being a good man who loved his family and strived to help others and served his community. Paul Hogue wouldn't have had enough shelf space for all those awards if they did."
Hogue, an excellent student, was not allowed to attend the University of Tennessee.
Hogue, whose father was the principal at Austin High, grew up during segregation. Austin was the city's all-black high school and when he graduated in 1958, UT and most other universities in the South did not recruit African-American players.
Hogue later told an interviewer that he signed with Cincinnati because it was far enough away from home – but not too far – and because he wanted to play alongside of Bearcats star, Oscar Robertson.
A 6'9" center, Hogue, went on to become a two-time NCAA All-American player and helped lead the Bearcats to an 84-7 mark from 1959-62 and three Missouri Valley Conference Championships.
Cincinnati won back-to-back NCAA titles in 1961 and 1962. Hogue was captain of the 1962 team and scored 58 points and grabbed 38 rebounds during the semifinal and championship games that season.
Nearly 50 years after he left the school he remains third on Cincinnati's all-time rebound list and is still one of the top 15 scorers.
After graduating from Cincinnati Hogue was the second overall pick in the 1962 NBA draft going to the New York Knicks. He went on to play three seasons in the NBA for the Knicks and the Baltimore Bullets.
After his NBA career Hogue worked for many years with the U.S. Postal Service including several years in its employee assistance program. He was a dedicated supporter of substance abuse recovery efforts.
Active in his community Hogue served on the Princeton City School Board from 1988-2000 and on the Village Council for the Village of Woodlawn from 2006-2009.
"Paul Hogue was a good friend, a good neighbor, a good husband, a good father and a good man. He made a difference in a lot of lives," Brown said. "I wish he was alive today to see this. He should have been here when the City of Knoxville said, "Thank you. We're so proud of you."