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Three former greats inducted into APSU Hall of Fame

APSU Sports Information

Three former Austin Peay State University greats were inducted into University’s Athletics Hall of Fame, Saturday morning.

Adrian Henning, a two-time first-team All-Ohio Valley Conference forward who led the Austin Peay State University men’s basketball team to back-to-back league championships and a 2003, NCAA tournament appearance Paige Smith, who helped lead the Lady Govs basketball team to a trio of NCAA tournaments also during the early part of this decade, and Ryan Bennett, one of the best two-way catchers in APSU history who helped lead the Bat Govs to their first NCAA tournament appearance in 1996, were honored Saturday morning during a ceremony in the Dunn Center front lobby. Their respective inductions saw the Austin Peay Athletic Hall of Fame membership grow to 97.

Henning, who currently plays professionally in Mexico and all over the world, was unable to attend Saturday morning’s ceremony, but arrived Saturday night to be honored with the other two inductees at halftime of Murray State-APSU contest.

Henning would become part of a four-year senior class at Austin Peay that won 81 games, including a trio of 20-win seasons. Henning, in fact, was the leading scorer (15.5 ppg) on the 2002-03 Governors basketball team that captured the OVC tourney championship and advanced to the 2003 NCAA tournament against Louisville.

The Memphis native ranks 12th all-time in career scoring (1353 points) and 11th in rebounding (661). He is third all-time in blocked shots with 105. His numbers aside, his leaping ability and corresponding dunks were legendary.

At the same time Henning was the focal point of the Governors’ success, Smith was enjoying similar glory as a Lady Gov.

Smith is Austin Peay’s seventh all-time leading scorer with 1324 points. She also ranks in several other Lady Govs’ categories, including three pointers made (258/2nd), free-throw percentage (.852/2nd), assists (435/3rd), steals (177/7th), minutes played (4144/1st), games played (122/3rd) and games started (119/1st).

Smith was a member of the OVC All-Freshman team in 1999-00. The 72 three-pointers she made still stand as a Lady Govs’ freshman record as does her .873 free-throw percentage mark-and a three-time OVC all-tournament team member. The Livingston, Tenn. native owns three of the Lady Govs’ Top-10 single-season free-throw percentage marks.

Bennett was born to be a catcher. His brother Gary was a minor league catcher with the Philadelphia Phillies (on the way to a double-digit season major league career) when Ryan arrived in Clarksville.

As a junior, he earned team most valuable player honors and honorable mention All-OVC when he batted a team-best .356-31 points higher than anyone else-while leading the team in RBI (43). He paced the team with 25 extra-base hits, including 17 doubles. He also had just four errors from the catcher’s position, particularly impressive since he was known as someone who was not shy about attempting to pick off runners at both first and second bases.

Bennett was consistently good in 1996, earning first-team All-OVC after being named honorable mention the previous season. He opened that season with an eight-game hitting streak and later had three other nine-game hitting streaks.

Despite playing the game’s most taxing position, Bennett ranks seventh all-time in batting average (.339), with his 211 career hits ranking ninth and 54 doubles ranking third. He also is ranked ninth all-time in RBI with 125.

He would go onto a six-year minor league career with the New York Mets and now owns a medical supply business in Austin, Texas. TAS

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