Father of the jump shot has jersey hung in the rafters at Williams

Whitey Skoog didnâÄôt plan on taking basketballâÄôs first-ever jump shot. It happened in a bind, but it became the highlight of SkoogâÄôs standout collegiate and NBA career. The Gophers retired his No. 41 jersey Sunday night at Williams Arena. Playing for the Gophers in the late âÄô40s, Skoog mastered a stutter-step move to the basket taught to him by head coach Ozzie Cowles. Skoog used it to blow by a defender from Drake University in 1948, and penetrated to the basket only to find a towering center in his path. Trying to avoid a collision, he landed on both feet and jumped straight up. Skoog hung in the air and, seeing no one was open for a pass, did something that he had never done before: shot it. With his arms raised high above his head and legs extended, it wasnâÄôt exactly todayâÄôs polished jump shot, but he was able to get above the defense and get extra leverage on the shot. As Skoog trotted back on defense, he thought to himself, âÄúWell, that was something different. I should practice that.âÄù So he did. He came back to Williams Arena and perfected the new move, and became widely recognized as the first player to adopt it. Before him, players used set shots, in which they donâÄôt leave their feet (similar to how most players shoot free throws today). âÄúI started practicing it, and shoot man, it started going in,âÄù Skoog, whose real first name is Myer, said in an interview before his halftime presentation. âÄúIt wasnâÄôt long before you saw kids in high school doing it. I remember watching the state high school tournament, and this little town of Cloquet had two little guards playing, and they were shooting the jump shot all the time.âÄù âÄúThey had seen it in Williams Arena here, which is the only place they couldâÄôve seen it, and they were already starting to shoot it. They felt it was an integral part of the game of basketball that hadnâÄôt been introduced to them.âÄù The jumper became SkoogâÄôs signature, helping him become a rare two-time All-American, a three-time All-Big Ten selection and a top-10 pick in the 1951 NBA Draft. By the time he started playing with the Minneapolis Lakers, the jump shot had made it to the pro game. Skoog was, not surprisingly, known as an outside shooter, and couldâÄôve been more productive if the three-point line existed. But he did win three championships with the Lakers in his six-year career, playing in the starting lineup alongside George Mikan, Slater Martin, Vern Mikkelson and Jim Pollard -âÄî all four of whom are in the Hall of Fame. After a back injury forced him out of the NBA, Skoog became the head menâÄôs basketball coach at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, for 24 years. âÄúI donâÄôt know if thereâÄôs anyone in the state of Minnesota that has meant more to basketball than Whitey,âÄù Joel Maturi, University of Minnesota athletics director, said. He joins five other Gophers menâÄôs players in the rafters: Trent Tucker, Lou Hudson, Kevin McHale, Mychal Thompson and Jim Brewer. McHale was the right-hand man to Larry Bird on some of basketballâÄôs most iconic teams, and Tucker even has an NBA rule named after him. Still, SkoogâÄôs claim to fame is just a cut above. âÄúNo one had seen it, a stutter step move where youâÄôre going up and theyâÄôre still down,âÄù Skoog, now 82, said. âÄúSo thatâÄôs what happened. ThatâÄôs the story of the jump shot.âÄù