Inductees Billy Mann, a Chicago prep standout, teamed up with Gene Melchiorre, from suburban Chicago, to form the most famous duo in Bradley basketball history.
It was always “Mann and Melchiorre” when the two were talked about from the time played together on the Fort Sheridan team that once played and defeated Caterpillar in the Peoria Armory the year before the two enrolled at Bradley.
During his four years of varsity play, Mann scored 1,128 points, shooting .431 for his career. He was picked on the 1940s Team of the Decade in BU’s search for its all-time Top 15 players.
During his career, Bradley won 119 games and lost just 22. The Braves were fourth in the NIT in his sophomore season, second in both the NIT and NCAA in his junior year and second in the post-season Hawaiian Tournament and Bradley’s own campus tournament at the end of his senior year. He was named to the 1950 all-NIT team.
“We played together as one,” recalls Melchiorre. “We always knew what the other would be doing and where he would be. He could do it all: score, rebound, pass. He was a lot better when the game was on the line. And he was a better person than a ball player.”
Mann passed away in August of 1993.
Billy Mann, a Chicago prep standout, teamed up with Gene Melchiorre, from suburban Chicago, to form the most famous duo in Bradley basketball history.
Larry Leitner was among the state's elite officials for more than 40 years, officiating high school, college and professional sporting events from 1960 through 2003 and he remains involved in sports by serving on the board of directors for the Pekin Insurance Holiday Tournament, as well as evaluating current officials and moderating IHSA rules clinics.
Among his officiating highlights, Leitner worked more IHSA basketball and football tournament games than any official in the state's history, earning 27 consecutive boys basketball regional assignments. He also worked the IHSA boys basketball state finals in 1973, 1974 and 1976, including the 1976 championship game, and three IHSA football finals, including the first-ever 2A state championship game in 1974. A charter member of the Gateway Conference officiating crew in 1988, Leitner was part of the crew that officiated the 1990 and 1993 NCAA Division I-AA quarterfinals and he served as an associate official for the Big Ten Conference from 1984-88.
Leitner also was called upon to officiate two IESA state championship games, the 1990 National Catholic Basketball finals, three Shriner All-Star football games and the 1980 IBCA All-Star Classic, while also working for two seasons in the Midwest Professional Football League.
Leitner is a member of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association, Peoria Officials and Bloomington/Normal Officials Halls of Fame.