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CIAA basketball legend Harold Hunter dies
NCCU star was first black to sign NBA deal
 
Published Thursday, March 7, 2013 2:37 pm
by Herbert L. White

 

Harold Hunter, the first African American to sign an NBA contract, died today at his home in Hendersonville, Tenn.

He was 86 years old.

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N.C. CENTRAL UNIVERSITY
Harold Hunter, (right) an N.C. Central University graduate, was the first African American to sign an NBA contract. He died on March 7 at age 86.


Hunter, who was also the first black U.S. Olympic basketball coach to coach the U.S. Olympic basketball team, played guard at N.C. College (now N.C. Central University), where he led the Eagles to the 1950 CIAA tournament championship. On April 26, 1950, Hunter signed an NBA contract but was cut during training camp and never played a regular-season game. The first African American to play in an NBA game was another CIAA standout – West Virginia State’s Earl Lloyd.


As head coach at Tennessee State, Hunter’s Tigers produced 17 players who would go to the NBA and went 172-67 over nine seasons. He also coached women's and men's teams at historically black Xavier, Dillard and Southern universities in Louisiana.


In 1968, Hunter was an assistant coach on the U.S. Olympic squad that won a gold medal in Mexico City. Players on that squad included future NBA stars Spencer Haywood, Charlie Scott and Jo Jo White.


Hunter, who was born April 30, 1926 in Kansas City, Kansas, was inducted into the NCCU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1984, and earned a Trailblazer Award from his alma mater at NCCU’s centennial celebration in Dec. 2009.
 

 

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