HOUSTON -- He has been this way before, exactly 10 years ago, but never before has there been so much optimism around the Basketball Hall of Fame nomination of former University of Houston coach Guy V. Lewis.

The official announcement came Friday as the 12 finalists for this year's class of the Basketball Hall of Fame were announced in downtown Houston, as part of the NBA All-Star Weekend.

When the announcement was made, Hall of Famer and life-long Cougar, Clyde Drexler, jumped out of his seat on the Hilton Americas stage.

Did you see me pop up on stage and give him a standing ovation? I think coach Lewis is richly deserving, said Drexler. It's been a long time in coming. With all of the support around the world for Guy Lewis, it's hard for me to think that he wouldn't make it.

His trademark polka dot towel would have gone flying, had he been there.

It's the announcement the Cougar faithful and Lewis former players had long hoped for.

Former Cougar player Otis Birdsong said, Do you know U.H. hasn't won an NCAA tournament game since Guy V. was here?

Guy V. Lewis won 592 games. His teams had nine final four appearances and two NCAA Championship berths. He was the first coach in the South to recruit black players. Elvin Hayes and Don Chaney broke the color barrier for the Cougars.

Guy V. was also the man behind the Game of the Century versus UCLA in the Astrodome. That was the first regular season game ever televised nationally.

Lewis' family released a statement saying they are happy with the news.

The 2013 class will be selected at the Final Four in April.

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