Statue of Shockers’ Dave Stallworth set to be unveiled
The greatest Shocker will soon have a spot reserved outside of Koch Arena.
Wichita State will unveil a life-size, bronze statue of Dave Stallworth in front of Koch Arena in an 11 a.m. public ceremony on Saturday, with all but one living member of the 1965 Final Four team expected to be in attendance. The team will be honored during halftime of the men’s basketball game against Baylor on Saturday night.
It will be the culmination of a nearly two-year project spearheaded by former teammate Bob Powers following Stallworth’s death at age 75 in March 2017.
Stallworth, a 6-foot-7 forward from Dallas with career averages of 24.3 points and 10.5 rebounds, is considered WSU’s first national superstar and was a consensus All-American in 1964 and 1965. He led WSU to its first Missouri Valley Conference championship and first NCAA Tournament in 1964. His No. 42 jersey is one of just five retired in the rafters at Koch Arena.
“We hope that whenever people look at it, they’ll remember the legacy of not only him as a great player but also Dave as a fine human being that treated other people as they should be treated,” said former teammate Dave Leach, who will be in attendance on Saturday.
When Powers came to WSU athletic director Darron Boatright with the idea to honor Stallworth with a statue, Boatright was initially hesitant. Cleo Littleton was a star in his own right and helped break the color barrier, and Cliff Levingston, Antoine Carr and Xavier McDaniel were all important parts of WSU’s basketball history as well.
“I thought it was difficult to ever pick just one out of your past when there’s been so much to come through,” Boatright said.
But after talking with Stallworth’s former teammates, Boatright realized Stallworth’s impact went beyond basketball.
“It was an interesting time in the country during that Civil Rights era in the early ’60s,” Boatright said. “That team came together — black, white, Muslim, Catholic, Christian — from all over the country. This was a special group.”
“No matter your position on the team or in life, Dave treated
everyone equally,” Leach said. “You always got that friendly hello and that great Stallworth smile when you were around Dave. He was just a delight to be around and I’m glad he is receiving this recognition.”
After an eight-year career in the NBA with the New York Knicks and Baltimore/Capital Bullets, Stallworth decided to make Wichita his home. He regularly attended Shocker games and current WSU coach Gregg Marshall called him a “super gentlemen” when discussing his legacy this week.
“It’s a great honor and it will be the first and the only statue around Koch Arena, and rightly so,” Marshall said. “He was a pioneer and he got this program going.”
WSU advanced to the Final Four in Stallworth’s senior season in 1965, but it did so without Stallworth, whose eligibility with the NCAA had expired at the end of January. WSU played without its best player for the final two months of the season, but still was able to rally for its first appearance in the Final Four.
“Who knows, there could be a national championship banner there in Koch Arena in Dave would have been able to play that last semester,” Boatright said.
“We would have had a better chance in ’65 in the Final Four if (Stallworth) hadn’t been running out of eligibility at mid-year,” Marshall quipped. “That, to me, is the burgeoning of NCAA faux pas back then. A guy can lose his eligibility in the middle of the season.”
WSU is expecting 11 of Stallworth’s former teammates from that 1965 team in attendance on Saturday, along with Stallworth’s wife, Gloria, and family members to represent other members of the team.
It’s a reunion that Leach is looking forward to.
“It will be a real treat not only to be back together again, but also to see the final product of Bob Powers’ work,” Leach said. “We all still stay in touch, so it will be a really delightful way to celebrate this memorial to Dave.”
YOU ALWAYS GOT THAT FRIENDLY HELLO AND THAT GREAT STALLWORTH SMILE WHEN YOU WERE AROUND DAVE. HE WAS JUST A DELIGHT TO BE AROUND. former Wichita State teammate Dave Leach