One of the greatest Jewish players in college basketball history, Gotkin helped lead St. Johnís to the NIT championship in 1943 and 1944. His coach, Joe Lapchick, said of Gotkin, ďHe was only 5í8Ē, but was a dynamic leader and great playmaker who generated our NIT championship teams.Ē
Hy Gotkin was an important member of the St. Johnís team in the mid 1940ís. In 1943, the diminutive 5í8Ē guard and the 6í9Ē center Harry Boykoff, joined the varsity squad as sophomores and led the St. Johnís basketball program to new heights. That season, they had a record of 18-3, were ranked No.4 in the country, and were invited to play in the NIT. Gotkin played primarily off the bench, but was usually one of his teamís top scorers. In the final, St. Johnís overwhelmed Toledo and captured the schoolís first postseason championship by a score of 48-27.
In 1944, his junior year, Gotkin captained St. Johnís and blossomed into a star. Gotkinís claim to fame occurred, when St. Johnís in 1944 battled loss of personnel due to war years, and the team was left with a majority of underclassmen. Named a Converse third team All-America, Gotkin led the team in scoring. St. Johnís returned to the NIT with a 14-8 regular season record. In the NIT final, they defeated favored DePaul University (led by All-America center George Mikan), 49-39, and captured the tournament championship for the second year in a row (the only time in NIT a team won back to back titles).
When the season was complete, and after Hy Gotkin had gotten married, he received the most important letter he had ever received. Coach Joe Lapchick first congratulated his dynamic guard on his recent marriage, and then told him what he thought of his contribution to the St. Johnís team. Lapchick recited the names of all the fine players that had played for him, but then the placed Hy Gotkin at the top of the list.
In 1945, Gotkin repeated as St. Johnís captain and was named third team All-America and first team All-Metropolitan for the second consecutive year (he also finished second in the voting for the Haggerty Award, which is still given to the best in the New York City Metropolitan area. St. Johnís finished the regular season 19-2 and again played the NIT. In the consolation game, St. Johnís defeated Rhode Island 64-57 to finish in the third place; Gotkin averaged 12 points per game.
Hy was an original draft pick of the original 1946 Knicks. After his four year professional career ended, Hy became a New York City school teacher for 30 years. Hy is a member of the St. Johnís Athletic Hall of Fame, the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame and a member of the Old Timers Hall of Fame.