By Art Kabelowsky Special to Published Dec 15, 2010 at 4:24 PM

This is something that hasn't happened in the world of sports since ...

Since ...

For a change, a reporter doesn't need to consult a team's public relations person to accurately complete the above sentence. Plain and simple, this is something that has never happened before.

But then, if it had, Hallie King likely would have had that information at her fingertips.

Next month, King -- resident of Oconomowoc, graduate of Arrowhead High School and sophomore communications major at the University of Tennessee -- will become the 31st individual recipient of the Naismith Good Sportsmanship Award.

That's a remarkable achievement in itself. What makes it historic is that at age 20, King is 12 years younger than the previous youngest winner of the prestigious award.

"Some of the winners were in their 50s or even their 70s when they won," King said by telephone Monday. "When I look at the names on the list, it's just amazing to see my name there."

Hallie is the daughter of Bill and Shelley King -- Bill was the Milwaukee Bucks' director of public relations from 1977-99. She's the fourth female winner of the award. Among the other female winners is Pat Summitt, Tennessee's legendary women's basketball coach.

Hallie also is the second Naismith Award winner with strong Wisconsin ties (the other is former Bucks great Oscar Robertson) and the second who has never been a player, coach or executive with a team or league (the other is sportswriter Rick Telander).

"When I first heard I had been selected, I knew it was a big award. I didn't have any idea how big," said King, already a seasoned expert in the field of sports information -- handling statistics, game management and publicity for sports teams.

"I did some research and looked at some of the background information, and that's when it hit me," she said. "I remember thinking, 'Oh, my goodness, this is a huge award.'
Named for Dr. James Naismith, who wrote the original 13 rules of the game in 1891, the Naismith Award is not given out annually. Instead, it is only presented when the selection board finds a worthy honoree.

The list of past winners includes such luminaries as Red Auerbach, Michael Jordan, Ray Meyer, Steve Nash, Oscar Robertson, Dick Vitale, Roy Williams and John Wooden.

"It's an elite group," Hallie King said.

On Jan. 15, prior to tip-off of a Tennessee basketball game at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, King will receive her award from Ian Naismith, a grandson of Dr. Naismith and founder and director of the Naismith International Basketball Foundation.

The award itself is a gorgeous 70-pound, bronze-and-metal statue of Dr. Naismith standing beneath the iconic peach basket that, legend has it, became the first basketball goal in history.

What will she do before and after the ceremony?

"I'll be working," King said. "It's going to be a busy day. There's a men's game against Vanderbilt with a noon tipoff, and (the ESPN college sports show) GameDay begins at 10, so there will be a lot of running around starting first thing in the morning.

"Then there's a postgame reception with family and friends ... and the women's game (also against Vanderbilt) is at 8 o'clock, so I'll have to be back at the arena for that."

King's love affair with basketball is hereditary. Her father regularly had her in tow at the Bucks' office and at countless games, where she watched as he managed the media room and the statistics crew.

She showed an aptitude for the computer program the Bucks' staff used to handle in-game statistics. Soon, she had learned all the ins and outs of keeping basketball statistics on the computer.

She went to high school at Arrowhead partly because school staff there was willing to tailor a portion of her curriculum around sports information work. As a respected, award-winning member of the Arrowhead boys volleyball and boys basketball programs, King produced game and season statistical reports that filled inch-thick binders.

In 2008, when she was 17, Hallie was selected as sports information director of the McDonald's All-American High School Basketball Classic, held at the Bradley Center. She managed the statistics and timers' crew for the national boys and girls all-star games so well that some of the sport's brightest stars couldn't help but notice.

"What I observed was a 17-year-old young lady providing a courtside clinic on basketball statistics to some of the icons of the game who were attending as VIPs," Naismith said. "Hallie has an unparalleled passion for the game of basketball.

"Her spirit and dedication exemplify the code of sportsmanship that my grandfather wrote into the original 13 rules of the sport. Hallie King represents all that's good about the essence of the game."

King soon began receiving recruitment pitches from major colleges, at least one of which offered to tailor a new major around her skills. She settled on Tennessee, where the men's coach is former UW-Milwaukee coach Bruce Pearl.

"Hallie is an asset to my staff, an innovator as it relates to basketball statistics and a wonderful young lady," said Pearl, who was instrumental in luring King to Tennessee. "The Naismith Award is one of the top honors in all of sports -- the list of winners is a Who's Who of the game of basketball."

King's ability to handle her considerable work duties while taking a full class load is a testament to her discipline and time management skills.

"Somehow, everything gets done," she said. "I don't know how sometimes, but it gets done."

At Tennessee, she attends practice- statistics are carefully kept, even during drills and scrimmages. On game days she does whatever is asked of her by Tom Satkowiak, Tennessee's men's basketball sports information director.

The goal she stated while still in high school -- to become an athletic director at a university -- is still on her list of possible career goals. Now, though, King will have to work long and hard to beat the honor she achieved as a 20-year-old college kid.

"To be listed with all those people who have done so many great things with their lives, and I'm just starting mine ... well, it's astonishing to me," King said.

Art Kabelowsky Special to

Art Kabelowsky has spent 33 years in the sports writing business, the last 12 with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Art was named the Journal Sentinel's Prep Editor in July, 2000, directing its high school sports coverage until he accepted the paper's offer of a voluntary buyout last August.

A graduate of Sussex Hamilton High School and UW-Whitewater, Art has also worked for daily papers in Fort Atkinson, Racine, La Crosse and Decatur, Ill. He has been sports editor in Fort Atkinson and La Crosse.

Art spent five years as a beat reporter covering the La Crosse Catbirds of the Continental Basketball Association and has also covered a Rose Bowl, countless Green Bay Packers games and more than 25 years' worth of state high school basketball tournaments and football finals.

He lives on the northwest side and has spent the last few months volunteering as an assistant football coach at Milwaukee Riverside High School.