Statue of Shock­ers’ Dave Stall­worth set to be un­veiled

The Wichita Eagle - - Sports - BY TAY­LOR ELDRIDGE [email protected]­chi­taea­

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.”


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