Verona alum J.J. Tauai will be among the honorees at the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame’s annual Basketball Tipoff Luncheon presented by Mercy, set for 11 a.m. on Wednesday, December 13 at the Oasis Hotel and Convention Center in Springfield.
President and Executive Director Jerald Andrews announced the luncheon last week and revealed the names of this year’s Filbert Five award recipients, a group of former high school, college and pro standouts who made positive impacts in the sport. The awards are named after the late Gary Filbert, a successful high school basketball coach who was the founder of the Show-Me State Games as well as the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association. Filbert is a Missouri Sports Hall of Fame inductee and in 2011 was honored as a Missouri Sports Legend by the Hall of Fame.
The Filbert Five men’s team features Tauai (Verona High School/Bradley University/Lithuania Basketball League/Baltic League), Wesley Culver (Hartville High School/College of the Ozarks), David Coutchie (Seymour High School/Southwest Baptist University), Brad Gregory (Montgomery City High School/Drury University) and Gary “Cat” Johnson (Joplin Memorial High School/Oral Roberts/New Jersey Nets).
The women’s Filbert Five features Katie Howard Clopton (Reeds Spring High School/College of the Ozarks), Marsha Burton High (Marionville High School/Missouri State University/Evangel University), Trish Van Diggelen Marsh (Marshfield High School/Missouri S&T), Kiana Bock Miller (Stockton High School/Drury University) and Jamesia Price (Blue Springs High School/St. Louis University).
Three individuals will be inducted into the Hall of Fame -- Doug Smith, Terry Writer and Lynn Long -- as will the Kickapoo High School girls basketball program.
Sponsorship tables of eight for the event are $400, and include an autographed print of inductees as well as special recognition in the printed program. Individual tickets are $40, and a head table ticket is $100. Numerous sponsorships, including congratulatory ads, are available. Call the Hall of Fame at 417-889-3100.
Now a Springfield Police officer, Tauai was All-State in 2003 when he led Verona High School to the Class 1 state championship and finished as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 2,036 points. Tauai then played at Bradley University from 2003 to 2007, helping the Braves reach the Sweet 16 after a first-round upset of the Kansas Jayhawks in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. A four-year letterman and team co-captain his final two years, he also helped Bradley reach the NIT in 2007, and then played in the Lithuania Basketball League and the Baltic League.