Written by Shelly Poe
Willie Akers, a basketball letterman from 1958-60, was a key participant on the great WVU squads that earned the nation’s No. 1 ranking in 1958 and advanced to the NCAA finals in 1959, losing 71-70 to California. Those Mountaineer teams went 81-12, winning two Southern Conference championships and two conference tournaments with three NCAA appearances. Akers was named to the SC all-tournament team as a senior. He averaged 7.2 points and 6.3 rebounds over his career and served as team captain in 1960.
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A native of Mullens, W.Va., Akers holds bachelor’s (1960) and master’s (1966) degrees in education from WVU. After playing professionally for two years with the ABA’s Cleveland Pipers, Akers coached at Logan High School and led the Wildcats to four Class AAA state championships (1964-77-78-83). His record at Logan was 402-116 (77.6%). His service there lasted more than 20 years, as a physical education instructor, then as dean of boys and finally as assistant principal for 10 years. He spent the next 10 years serving as Logan County’s assistant superintendent of schools.
Akers, active in many civic endeavors in Logan County, now operates Plaza Lanes in Logan. He was inducted into the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 1991 and to the Logan High School Hall of Fame in 1994. He and his wife Linda have two sons, Darren and Chad.