Danny Bryan lived long enough to learn that he would be a member of the Calhoun County Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2019. Bryan was a basketball standout at Piedmont High School before graduating in 1967. He led Jacksonville State in scoring during his junior season with the Gamecocks but he will be inducted posthumously.
Bryan died unexpectedly March 4, a few days after receiving the phone call that informed him he would be a member of the Sports Hall of Fame’s fifteenth annual class. He was three weeks short of his 70th birthday at the time of his death. His daughter, Leigh Bryan, will accept on his behalf Saturday at the Oxford Civic Center.
Leigh was visiting with her father in his home when the call came notifying him of his selection.
“Dad was almost like a 5-year-old child. I have never seen him so excited. … He said, ‘You’re not going to believe this,’ and he kind of got choked up some,” Leigh said. “He didn’t even sleep that night he told me.”
At 6-foot-1, Bryan was a shooting guard and the scoring leader for coach Howard Waldrep’s Piedmont teams of 1965, 1966 and 1967. As a junior, he outscored Hokes Bluff 51-47 by himself in Piedmont’s 103-47 win. His 51-point performance remains Piedmont’s single-game record according to research done by Piedmont sports historian Mike Naugher.
“Danny worked hard in the gym,” said Piedmont teammate Brad Snead. “In fact, a lot of times on Friday nights and Saturday nights we would just go to the gym rather than date because we wanted to be good. … He paid his dues in that gym.”
Bryan averaged 15.3 points per game in 24 games as a sophomore and was an honorable mention All-State selection. As a junior, when he averaged 21.6 points in 25 games, and in his senior season, when he averaged 26.8 points over 29 games, Bryan was a first-team All-State pick. All this came at a time when there was no 3-point shot in high school.
Bryan’s Bulldogs won the 1966 Calhoun County basketball tournament and he was the most valuable player. It was the first time that a team other than Alexandria, Anniston or Oxford claimed the county tournament title. He led Piedmont to a 53-51 win over Oxford in the quarterfinals with 19 points.The Bulldogs downed No. 2 seed Alexandria 59-51 in the semifinals as Bryan netted 20 points and bested No. 1 Anniston 54-49 in the title game when Bryan tallied 19 points.
In Bryan’s senior season, Piedmont was county tournament runner-up. Bryan scored a team-best 54 points in three games and was named to the all-tournament team.
“Danny could shoot the ball. He could shoot the ball,” Snead said. “He was just so quick, you know. I really believe Danny could have walked on at any major school and once they saw him he would be there.”
Bryan received a basketball scholarship from Jacksonville State University. As a junior, he led the Gamecocks in scoring with 509 points in 27 games. His best game that season was a 39-point effort against arch-rival Troy State in the Alabama Collegiate Conference tournament.
“Danny Bryan is without a doubt the finest outside shooter to ever put on the red and white of Jacksonville State University. In fact, it’s doubtful any guard in the nation can shoot with him,” read the Jacksonville State basketball media guide for his senior season.