Scholarship honors Jim and Cliff Daniels An endowed scholarship has been established in honor of two student athletes who were instrumental in leading The University of South Dakota men's basketball team to a national championship in 1958.
Creation of the Jim and Clifton Daniels Scholarship Endowment was announced during the 40-year reunion of the team, held during USD Dakota Days homecoming activities on Friday, Sept. 25.
NBC News Managing Editor Tom Brokaw, a 1964 USD graduate, established the scholarship, endowed through The University of South Dakota Foundation. Dan and Ardys Moen of Aberdeen, and the Norwest Bank Foundation have also provided funding for the endowment.
Jim and Clifton Daniels, who were the first black athletes to compete on the USD men's basketball team, transferred to USD from Lincoln University in Missouri during their sophomore year following outstanding athletic careers at Franklin K. Lane High School in Queens, NY.
The 1958 Coyote team became the first North Central Conference team ever to win a national championship, in any sport. The team, which also won the conference in 1957, won 23 of 24 games during that two-year span (1957-58).
The South Dakota Sports Writers Association named the 1958 Coyote Basketball Team "College Team of the Year." The team also finished second in the conference in 1956. The Daniels brothers were two-time NCAA All-Tourney Team Players and received numerous other honors for their athletic abilities.
Not only did the Daniels brothers play together, they graduated together. Jim earned a BSBA (accounting) degree and Cliff, a BA in political science, in 1958.
The South Dakota Sports Writers Association named Jim Daniels, the only student athlete in USD history named to a first-team All-American basketball team, "College Athlete of the Year." He was named to the first five of the 1958 Little All-American basketball squad after receiving All-American honorable mention in 1957.
After earning honorable mention All-NCC in 1956, Jim was named to the conference team in 1957 and 1958, a season in which he finished as the league's leading scorer. Jim, who was the captain of the 1958 team, scored 40 points in the 75-53 national championship victory over Saint Michael's of Vermont.
During his senior year he scored a total of 505 points, setting a school record. In the 1958 Coyote basketball program, a writer wrote that Jim "played best when the pressure was on and had broken many a team's spirit" with his hard charging drives to the basket.
Cliff Daniels, who received All-American honorable mention in 1958, was named All-NCC in 1957 and 1958 and honorable mention All-NCC in 1956. Known as "the clutch player, the thinker, the quarterback," Cliff could jump higher than any other team member, despite being one of the shortest squad members, according to the 1958 program. He was a sharp ball handler and a ball hawk on defense.
Cliff also participated in several student organizations, including the senior men's honorary service organization, the Dakotans.