English was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1997, his first year of eligibility, and served as a member of its board of directors.
Basketball player. English was born on January 5, 1954, in Columbia to James H. English and Johnnie Mae Glasgow.
After a successful start at Dreher High School in Columbia, English opted to play basketball for the University of South Carolina (USC). After he enrolled in 1972, his impact on the program was immediate. English started every game (111) during his four years at USC and never averaged less than the 14.6 points per game he posted his freshman year. By the end of his college career in 1976 he had became the school’s career-scoring leader with 1,972 points, making 53.8 percent of his shots during that span. He became the fourth player to have his number (22) retired.
In 1976 English moved to the National Basketball Association as the second-round pick and twenty-third overall of the Milwaukee Bucks, with whom he spent two seasons in a reserve role. He became a free agent in 1978 and signed with the Indiana Pacers. Two years later the Denver Nuggets acquired him in a fateful trade for George McGinnis.
The fluent run-and-shoot style of the coach Doug Moe was tailor-made for English’s smooth game. He averaged 21.3 points in his final twenty-four games of that season, a sign of things to come. By the end of his career in Denver in 1990, English had become the most prolific scorer of the 1980s. He won the scoring championship in 1982–1983 with 28.4 points per game, played in eight NBA All-Stars games, and led his team to nine play-off spots. He scored 2,000 or more points in eight straight seasons.
English left the rebuilding Nuggets in 1990, signing as a free agent with the Dallas Mavericks. He averaged 9.7 points in a reserve role and left the NBA as a player at the end of that season, finishing with 25,613 career points, a 21.5 average per game, and a 50.7 field-goal-shooting percent for fifteen seasons. English was the seventh-leading scorer in league history at the time of his retirement from the NBA. Denver retired his jersey (2) in 1992.
English accepted a position as director of player programs for the National Basketball Players Association in New York and oversaw the league’s programs on alcohol and drug abuse, HIV/AIDS, and player orientation. He established Flick2, a company that represents players in marketing opportunities, in 1996 and has worked as an analyst for Fox Sports and CNNSI.
Interest in a coaching career led English to become the head coach of the North Charleston Lowgators in the fledgling National Basketball Development League in 2001–2002. The Lowgators posted a 36–20 record and reached the league finals. English accepted a post as director of player development for the Atlanta Hawks before the 2002–2003 season and later became an assistant coach.
English was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1997, his first year of eligibility, and served as a member of its board of directors. English was a member of the USC Board of Trustees from 1999 to 2003. He is a member of the University of South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame (1988) and the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame (1993).