Not one, not two, not three, not even four nor five halls of fame are enough to fully capture the contributions of Van Buren's Joan Crawford to women's basketball.
Crawford has been inducted into six halls of fame, covering her basketball career from Arkansas to across the United States to international destinations.
"Most athletes dream of playing for a state championship, receiving a college scholarship, and then playing professional ball at a high level, but for the majority of athletes, reality occurs. Then there is Joan Crawford!" said Drew Cone, Van Buren activities administrator and chairman of the Van Buren Hall of Honor.
Crawford was elevated to the girls' varsity basketball team by Clair Bates as a freshman for the 1951-52 season.
The next three seasons, Van Buren won three state championships. At the time, basketball was the only sanctioned girls sport by the Arkansas Athletic Association and the Arkansas Inter-School Contest Association and there was only one classification.
In 1954, Van Buren won its four state tournament games by a combined 105 points with the closest game being a 19-point margin. Crawford was the state tournament's high scorer with 81 points in four games.
In 1955, the Pointerettes won their four state tournament games by a combined 101 points with the closest being a 16-point victory. Crawford was again the state tournament's high scorer with 112 points in the four games.
Crawford was all-state all three seasons.
Crawford earned a college scholarship to Clarendon Junior College in the Texas panhandle, and she led the team to the quarterfinals of the Amateur Athletic Union national tournament. Crawford earned AAU All-American honors.
Crawford then went to the Nashville Business College. Long before organized women's professional basketball, women's teams played the AAU circuit which included national tournaments.
From 1958 through 1969, a span of 12 years, Nashville Business College won the National AAU Tournament 10 times with 91 wins in 92 games at one point with Crawford being named All-American every single year. She was the Most Valuable Player in 1963 and 1964.
Crawford also made her mark internationally, representing the United States.
Before women's basketball was an Olympic sport, the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup was the highest level of international competition.
In 1957, the United States National team won the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with a 51-48 win over the Soviet Union in the first major competition between the United States and Russia. Crawford averaged 9.3 points in the 10 games of the World Cup with a high of 16 against Chile.
Two years later, Crawford again represented the USA at the 1959 Pan-Am games in Chicago.
Crawford, a 6-foot 22-year-old, averaged 11.4 points in leading the USA to the Gold Medal, going 8-0 against the competition with a high of 16 points against Mexico.
In 1963, Crawford returned to Brazil, to Sao Paulo, to lead the United State to the Gold Medal again in the Pan-Am games. Crawford averaged 16.3 points and was the leading scorer for the USA, which went 6-1 in the tournament.
In front of about 30,000 against home-standing Brazil, the USA lost despite 17 points from Crawford. In the double round-robin format with the top two teams advancing to the Gold Medal game, the United States defeated Brazil, 59-43, a day later with Crawford scoring 22 points for the Gold Medal.
Crawford was selected to the AAU Hall of Fame in 1966 and the Helms Basketball Foundation Hall of Fame in 1967.
In 1978, Crawford was named to the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and was just the third woman after Hazel Walker in 1959 and Quinnie Hamm-Toler in 1966 to be honored in the statewide Hall of Fame.
In 1997, Crawford was named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in a class that included NBA great Alex English, and coaches Don Haskins of Texas-El Paso and Pete Carril of Harvard.
In 1999, Crawford was selected in the inaugural class into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, a class that included Pat Summitt, Nera White, Cheryl Miller, Nancy Lieberman, Jody Conradt and Ann Meyers.
In 2000, Crawford was inducted into the inaugural Van Buren Hall of Honor.
Also in 1999, Sports Illustrated tabbed Crawford as No. 20 on their list of 50 Greatest Sports Figures from Arkansas.
"Van Buren has produced some of the finest and successful student-athletes in its long history," Cone said. "Trying to select the absolute elite athlete to ever walk the halls of VBHS is a difficult decision, but Joan Crawford stands out like no other."
SCHOOL Van Buren
YEAR GRADUATED 1955
SPORTS PLAYED Basketball
WHY HER? Crawford is a pioneer and a pace setter in women’s basketball with inductions into six Halls of Fame for a storied basketball career that ranges from the state to the nation to internationally. … At Van Buren, she was all-state three times and led the Pointerettes to three straight state titles, the first team to do so. … At Nashville Business College, she was selected AAU All-American 12 times after winning 10 AAU National Championships. … Internationally, she played for the World Cup winning USA team in 1957 and for the Pan-Am Gold Medal winning teams in 1959 and 1963. … Sports Illustrated in 1999 named Crawford No. 20 on the list of 50 Greatest Sports Figures from Arkansas.
Sports on 07/09/2019
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