Truman Claytor’s Sports Legends Hall of Fame induction will add to his accomplishments

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THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH
Caption: Truman Claytor, former University of Kentucky and Scott High School basketball player, is being inducted into the African American Legacy Project’s Sports Legends Hall of Fame Wednesday, June 13, 2018, in Toledo, Ohio.

For Truman Claytor, being inducted into the African American Legacy Project’s Sports Legends Hall of Fame means he’s at the top of his craft.

Mr. Claytor, who played college basketball at Kentucky from 1975-1979, won an NCAA championship in 1978. He has two City League titles (1974, 1975) from his playing days at Scott High School. He was an All-Ohio guard during his senior year of high school and was inducted into the City Athletic League Hall of Fame in 1991.

On June 23, he and eight other local athletes will be inducted into the African American Legacy Project’s Sports Legends Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will be held at the African American Legacy Project’s building, which is the former Ascension Lutheran Church. The ceremony is set to start at 2 p.m., and the event will be free and open to the public.

For Mr. Claytor, his induction will only validate his status as one of the most revered basketball players to come out of Toledo. He was one of the best players in perhaps the city’s best era of basketball in the early and late 1970s.

Kelvin Ransey and John Flowers played at Macomber High School. Kim Leonard and Kenny Cunningham played at Rogers High School. Terry Crosby, Claytor’s friendly rival back in high school, played basketball and football at DeVilbiss High School; Mr. Crosby went to Tennessee to play college basketball.

Mr. Claytor said that he and Mr. Crosby always brought the best out of each other when they played. During one December game when Scott played DeVilbiss, Mr. Claytor and Mr. Crosby went at it in a scoring duel. Mr. Claytor finished with 40 points, and Mr. Crosby had 38.

“It was like Bird and Magic between me and Terry,” Claytor said.

Mr. Claytor grew up on Prospect Avenue, where two other future Division I players stayed. Don Collins, who played with Mr. Claytor at Scott, played at Washington State from 1976-1980; Todd Mitchell, who went to St. Francis De Sales, played at Purdue from 1984-1988.

Still, Mr. Claytor is held in high regard when it comes to some of Toledo’s best basketball players.

“Watching him play was a gift and such a joy because it was so easy for him,” Tony Thomas said over the phone. Mr. Thomas has been Mr. Claytor’s best friend since junior high school.

Mr. Thomas started at quarterback for Scott’s varsity team from his sophomore year through the end of high school.

Mr. Claytor is known for his shooting abilities, and Mr. Thomas likened his shot to 2018 NBA Hall of Fame Inductee Ray Allen.

Though Mr. Claytor was regarded as a great shooter, his role on the Kentucky team consisted of more than being able to shoot well. Mr. Claytor was a starting guard on the 1978 team along with Kyle Macy, who played for the Phoenix Suns, Chicago Bulls, and Orlando Magic during his seven-year NBA career.

Mr. Macy knows that Mr. Claytor was an excellent defender, along with being a good shooter.

“He’d normally get stuck on the toughest scorer on the other team,” Macy said in a phone interview.

Mr. Macy said the Wildcats were a balanced team in terms of their scoring. Five players averaged double figures in points per game the year the Wildcats won the championship. Mr. Macy said Mr. Claytor didn’t need to score much in his junior year, but the team needed him to score more in his senior year.

Mr. Claytor averaged 8.7 points per game in his senior season, about two points more than what he averaged in the 1977-1978 season.

For the past 25 years, Mr. Claytor has worked as a high school basketball referee in Ohio. He also worked some NCAA Division II and Division III college basketball games in the past. For the past 27 years, he has worked with teenagers who have substance abuse and mental health issues, and he currently works at Unison Health.

“It’s a passion where I guess God gave me that gift to help kids,” he said.

When Mr. Claytor is inducted into the Sports Legends Hall of Fame, Mr. Thomas will be there with him. Mr. Thomas lived with Mr. Claytor in Kentucky during the end of Mr. Claytor’s freshman year and for his entire sophomore year.

As he’s watched his friend work hard over the years, Mr. Thomas knows that Mr. Claytor is deserving of this latest accomplishment.

“He’s been a pillar in our community,” Mr. Thomas said. “He’s been an advocate for our children.”

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