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Ex-Fairfield U. Star Bounces Into Hall of Fame

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Joe DeSantis, one of the top men's basketball players ever at Fairfield University, was named one of six new members of the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame Thursday.

DeSantis will join the James O'Rourke Amateur Wing with Ceci Hopp St. Geme, a standout distance runner from Greenwich. NBA referee Bennett Salvatore of Stamford and Bridgeport's John Bagley will be inducted into the Jackie Robinson Professional Wing. Westport's Albie Loeffler and Bridgeport's Charlie Bentley will join the J. Walter Kennedy Community Service Wing.

The Hall of Fame, which is overseen by the Fairfield County Sports Commission, will induct the new members at it’s the commission's 7th Annual Sports Night awards dinner, Monday, Oct. 17, at the Hyatt Regency Greenwich. With the six new inductees, the Hall of Fame has now recognized 45 county sports legends.

DeSantis was one of Fairfield University's all-time great basketball players. A four-year letterman from 1975–79, he completed his collegiate career with 1,916 points. At the time he was the school's all-time leading scorer and currently he is No. 2. He averaged 18.4 points per game for his career, and his 667 assists are also second on the Stags' career list. DeSantis tops the Stags' record book for career free-throw percentage at .849. In the 1977-78 season, DeSantis led the Stags to one of their best seasons ever with a 22-5 record and an NIT appearance.

He was drafted by the Washington Bullets in the second round of the 1979 NBA Draft before playing in Venice, Italy, for one season. The Bronx, N.Y., native completed his professional playing career in the Continental Basketball Association. In 2004, DeSantis was inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame.

The Tolentine High graduate also had an accomplished coaching career with 26 years of Division I experience. He played a crucial role in elevating the Quinnipiac program from the Division II level to a respected Division I mid-major during his 11-year stint as head coach. The Trumbull resident kept close ties with his alma mater, gaining his first coaching experience as an assistant at Fairfield from 1981–88 and is now the radio color commentator for Stags basketball games.

Fairfield's Hall of Famers include Julius Boros (2005) and Charles Nagy (2007) in the professional wing. Other members of the amateur wing include Pete Demmerle (New Canaan), a standout football player at Notre Dame, Riverside's Dorothy Hamill, an Olympic champion figure skater, and Norwalk golfer Jerry Courville Sr.

Do you remember DeSantis' basketball days at Fairfield? Start the discussion below!

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