Among the greatest honors that can be given to an athlete is to be recognized by their peers. On Saturday, April 10, 2010, eight of Mississippi Valley State University’s former athletes and coaches will be given that honor as they are inducted into the MVSU Hall of Fame.
Among the Class of 2009-10 include two former coaches, a baseball standout, a football stalwart and four hardwood legends.
The induction ceremony will take place at the H.M. Ivy Cafeteria on MVSU’s campus with the program beginning at 7 p.m. Below is a short sketch on each of the inductees.
Harry Breland retired at the start of the 2008 prep baseball season at Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg, Miss., as one of the most decorated coaches in the state. He complied an overall record of 824-223 in 37 years. He led his teams to nine MHSAA state championships since 1971. In addition to the state titles, he finished second twice and has won 11 south state titles and 21 district titles. Eight of his former players have been drafted by Major League Baseball.
George D. Darden is currently the mayor of the village of Spring Valley, New York. He was elected mayor in 2001 and re-elected in 2005. Prior to his time in politics, he was a highly-regarded educator for more than thirty years. Darden entered MVSU in 1960 where he was a four-year letterman and co-captain of the baseball team by his senior year. He pitched a no-hitter against Paul Quinn College and a one-hitter against Mississippi Industrial at Holly Springs. His athletic achievements were matched by his academic achievements as he finished ranked number seven in the 1964 graduating class.
James Denson currently serves as the Mayor of the City of Rolling Fork. From 1965 to 1970, he was the head football coach and P.E. instructor at Weathers High School in Rolling Fork where he guided the program to the school’s first championship and amassed a 35-4-1 record with three championships and two undefeated seasons. His football team at South Delta amassed a 39-game win streak at one point. He was chosen district coach of the year seven times, Mississippi Coaches Association Coach of the Year three times and led his teams to nine football championships and six undefeated seasons. In other sports, he has seven track division championships, two baseball conference titles, four basketball championships including a state tournament appearance.
Herman Harris finished his career at the Valley as one of the more celebrated players to play at MVSU. He averaged double-figures for most of his career including averaging 24 points and 18 rebounds as a junior and 26 points, 20 rebounds as a senior. He was the team most valuable player his final three seasons as well as a sophomore co-captain and a junior and senior team captain. He was named second-team all-conference as a sophomore and first-team all-conference his junior and senior seasons. Known as “the Helicopter” he never lost a jump ball to start a game and even set game highs of 46 points, 21 blocks and 29 rebounds. As a senior, he was named third-team NAIA All-American. He was drafted by the San Diego Chargers with the 11th pick of the 1976 National Football League Draft as well as the Harlem Globetrotters.
Nathaniel Kilbert just completed his ninth year at the helm of the Devilettes basketball program. As a point guard at MVSU, Kilbert lettered four years under legendary Lafayette Stribling, from 1982-1986. Kilbert was a heavy contributor on the Delta Devils’ 1985-86 SWAC tournament championship team. Upon graduating from MVSU with a Bachelor of Science degree, he worked with Stribling as a student assistant. Kilbert moved on to Alcorn State as a graduate assistant from 1987 to 1989, earning his master’s of science degree in secondary education in 1989, before returning to MVSU as an assistant to then-head women’s basketball coach Jessie Harris from 1989 to 1991.
Donna McGray completed her at Mississippi Valley State as one of its most respected performers. In 1989, she led the NCAA Division I in steals – averaging 5.4 steals per game – and was second in assists. She finished her career averaging 425 steals ranking her 12th all-time – and at the time, the NCAA leader. McGray was a first-team all-conference performer in both volleyball and basketball in 1991. She was named SWAC Most Valuable Player in 1991. In 1992, she was a member of the Women’s World Basketball Association All-Star Tour Exhibition Team.
Robert Sanders currently serves as the Director of Public Safety at Mississippi Valley State, a post he has held since 2007. During his collegiate tenure at the Valley, he was a two-time SWAC All-Conference performer as well as a Black College All-American. He was also named Phi Beta Sigma Athlete of the Year. Upon leaving MVSU, he was a teacher and boys basketball coach at Shaw High School. He began his career in law enforcement in 1988. Among his career decisions, he also served as the sergeant-at-arms for the Mississippi State Senate from 2000-2004.
Percy Thornton graduated from Addison High School before accepting a football scholarship to Mississippi Valley State. He was rated as a first-string offensive starter. Active in the community, he was a deacon at Second Baptist Church, a member of Phi Beta Sigma, former president of area NAACP chapter, founder of the Arthur Shorter-Wes Goings Scholarship Foundation, member of the Mississippi Black Supervisors Association and a member of the Claiborne County Port Commission.