For­mer St. John’s basketball star Solly Walker dies at 85

Cape Breton Post - - In Memoriam -

Solly Walker, a St. John’s basketball star in the 1950s and the school’s first black player, has died. He was 85.

He died Fri­day but no other de­tails were dis­closed by the school Tues­day.

In his first sea­son on the var­sity, Walker, on Dec. 17, 1951, be­came the first black player to com­pete in a basketball game against Ken­tucky on the Wild­cats’ home court.

St. John’s reached the NCAA cham­pi­onship game that sea­son, the first of two Fi­nal Four ap­pear­ances in the school’s his­tory. He av­er­aged 4.4 points and 3.8 re­bounds dur­ing a 25-6 sea­son un­der Hall of Fame coach Frank McGuire.

In 1952-53, the 6-foot-4 swing­man helped St. John’s ad­vance to the Na­tional In­vi­ta­tion Tour­na­ment ti­tle game by av­er­ag­ing 7.0 points and 6.0 re­bounds. His finest sea­son came as a se­nior in 1953-54 when he topped the team in scor­ing (14) and re­bound­ing (12.2).

Walker was drafted by the New York Knicks but chose a ca­reer with the New York City Board of Ed­u­ca­tion, even­tu­ally be­com­ing a prin­ci­pal at a Man­hat­tan school. In 1993, he was in­ducted into the St. John’s ath­letic hall of fame.

Walker was born in 1932 in South Carolina and moved to Brook­lyn with his fam­ily as a child. He starred at Boys High School in Brook­lyn.

A memo­rial ser­vice is sched­uled for Mon­day at Siloam Pres­by­te­rian Church in Brook­lyn.

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