Written by Bryan Messerly
James M. Sottile was a standout forward for the basketball team from 1951-53.
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A native of Bristol, Pa., he helped WVU enjoy one of its best three-year spans in school history.
Sottile’s fine career was highlighted by his senior season in 1952-53, when he led WVU with 19.3 points per game and averaged six rebounds as the Mountaineers went 19-7.
With Sottile in the starting lineup, WVU posted a 60-20 record. In his junior season, he only played in 13 games because of a severe collarbone injury. He was sorely missed as the Mountaineers fell to Duke, 90-88, in the conference tournament semifinals at Raleigh, N.C.
Sottile’s importance to the team was clearly evident as he was named team captain in his senior season and started all 26 games. He was named All-America honorable mention in 1953 and made the all-Southern Conference first team.
The 6-1, 178-pound forward also made the Tri-State Area first team in 1953 and ranked 19th in the country in scoring with 501 points. After his superb senior season, Sottile was drafted by the Rochester Royals (now the Sacramento Kings) in 1953. He then played semi-professional basketball for the Sunbury Mercury.
Sottile also excelled academically while at WVU. He was the senior class president in 1953 and was a member of the Sigma Nu social fraternity. He also gained membership into several honorary organizations, including Mountain, Sphinx, Sigma Nu and Fi Batar Cappar fraternities.
He currently resides in Levittown, Pa., and took his knowledge and experience to the classroom as he taught grades seven through 12 for 36 years at Bristol High. Sottile earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education and health from WVU in 1953 and received a master’s degree from WVU in 1956.
While getting his master’s degree, Sottile served as a graduate assistant and helped coach Jerry West on the WVU freshman team in 1956-57. Sottile and his wife, the former Jeanette Modzik of Morgantown, will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in May. They have four children: Anita Giampietro, Jim Jr., Derek and David. Sottile also has three grandchildren: Natalie and Allison Giampietro and Heather Sottile.
He was inducted into the Bucks County Hall of Fame in 2011.