"Some of our student-athletes viewed this facility just the other day and were absolutely blown away," said USU Vice President and Director of Athletics Scott Barnes. "What sets this facility apart is its functionality as both a first-class basketball practice and elite volleyball competition venue. Our men and women's basketball coaches, along with volleyball, have some of the best office views in the entire valley and the finishes are spectacular."
During the ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening, Barnes recapped the project and reflected on Wayne's recruiting process to and career at Utah State. Other key speakers during the ceremony included University President Stan L. Albrecht, Wayne Estes' brother Ron Estes, USU men's basketball coach Stew Morrill, sophomore men's basketball forward Jalen Moore, and key donors Jim Laub and Blake Kirby.
"Thanks to the Laub family, we now have one the finest facilities in the country. Their desire to keep the Estes legacy alive makes this facility that much more special. Blake Kirby and others helped get us to the finish line and we are grateful," added Barnes.
Barnes also made a special acknowledgement to Wayne's teammates who were in attendance Wednesday, which included Reid Goldsberry, Hal Hale, Del Lyons, Alan Parrish and LeRoy Walker, along with other support personnel.
The $9.7 million, 32,000 square-foot basketball practice facility and volleyball competition venue contains two regulation-size basketball courts and a regulation-size volleyball competition court with chair back seating for 1,400 fans, along with a training room and in-season strength and conditioning area. Office space for both men's and women's basketball and volleyball is also included in the new facility, as well as a locker room and film room for volleyball. Ticketing and concession services are also available on Game Days. Located inside the foyer of the Wayne Estes Center is a visual tribute of the building's namesake.
Wayne Estes was an All-American basketball player for Utah State University from 1963 to 1965 and still ranks as the third-leading scorer in Utah State history with 2,001 points and the fourth-leading rebounder (893). He holds school records for career points per game (26.7), free throws made in a career (469), consecutive 10-point games (64), points in a season (821), points per game in a season (33.7), points in a game (52), and rebounds in a game (28).
On the night of February 8, 1965, Estes played the last game of his college career against the University of Denver in the Nelson Fieldhouse on the USU campus. Estes, who scored the second-most points in a single-game in school history that night with 48 (trailing his school-record 52 points set earlier in the year) eclipsed the 2,000 point mark with his final basket of the game to give him 2,001 points for his career.
After the game, Estes and some friends stopped at the scene of a car accident near campus. While returning to their vehicle, Estes brushed against a downed high power line and was fatally electrocuted. Estes would have likely been a high draft pick in the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 1965 as he was the second-leading scorer in the nation at 33.7 points per game, just behind Miami's Rick Barry.
Estes was posthumously given All-American honors by the Associated Press and also earned a posthumous consensus Second Team All-American distinction. In 1967, Estes was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
This project is the latest in a series of recent athletic facility improvements at Utah State. In 2008, construction was completed on the 69,000 square foot Jim & Carol Laub Athletics-Academics Complex. In 2009, USU opened the Steve Mothersell Athletics Hall of Honor as well as its new off-court basketball facilities, which include the Nate and Heather Wickizer men's basketball and MerLynn Pitcher women's basketball locker rooms. In 2010, USU opened the Dr. Randall and Julianne Stockham Student-Athlete Academic Hall of Honor. In 2011, a new synthetic turf was installed in the Stan Laub Indoor Training Center, while new AstroTurf was installed on Merlin Olsen Field inside Romney Stadium in 2012. In 2013, USU completed construction on its new 26,000 square foot strength and conditioning center, and new south end zone seating was added to Romney Stadium. And in 2014, chair back seating will be added to the south end zone.