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Know Your KU History: Bud Stallworth

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Did any non-champion go out on a higher note than KU’s Bud Stallworth? We investigate.

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The careers and legacies of Danny Manning and Mario Chalmers were set in stone the minute the final whistle blew in their respective NCAA championship games. Both were heroic performances that instantly went down in Kansas basketball history - and rightfully so. If you put up a performance like they did on the biggest stage, you deserve to go down in history, but most other players that have played at Kansas never get that grand sending off. So, other than those two, which KU player had the greatest game in his last appearance in a Jayhawk uniform? My vote goes to Isaac "Bud" Stallworth.

Bud Stallworth’s final game came on February 26, 1972 against bitter rival Missouri at Allen Fieldhouse. In that game, Stallworth poured in 50 points in KU’s 93-80 win over the Tigers. Now that’s quite a way to go out. Thomas Robinson was lauded (and for obvious reasons) for his monster 28 point, 12 rebound (and one hugely famous block) performance against Mizzou in the rivalry’s last game at Allen Fieldhouse, but imagine if he nearly doubled his offensive output? That’s exactly what Stallworth did on that magical February afternoon.

He shot 19 of 38 from the floor and 12 of 13 from the line and while the six foot five combo guard/forward’s legacy was cemented that day, his statistics over his three year career at Kansas assure that he’ll always have a place amongst the greats that this school has produced.

Stallworth arrived at Kansas from a segregated all-black Alabama high school by chance. He attended a band camp in Lawrence thanks to advice from his sister and drew the attention of Ted Owens and the basketball program. He was high on the list of other schools (mainly in the south), but Kansas appealed to the Hartselle, Alabama native and he plied his trade at Mount Oread for the maximum three years.

In his sophomore campaign, he immediately averaged 12.7 points and 6.0 rebounds per game in 26 games. He really began to take strides in his junior season which culminated in All- Big 8 honors and averages of 16.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.

That 1970-71 season was also a hugely successful one for the team. Kansas went undefeated (14-0) in the Big 8 and rolled into the postseason with a 25-1 record. That team reached the Final Four, only to lose to UCLA in the national semifinal (KU also lost the meaningless third place game to Texas Western) and finish with a 27-3 record.

In that senior season which featured the massive performance against Missouri, Stallworth averaged 25.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. He was again named to the All-Big 8 team and was the conference scoring champion. He was also named to the All-American team for the 1971-72 season.

Stallworth was the seventh overall pick in the 1972 NBA draft, going to the Seattle Supersonics. He played only five seasons total in the NBA after being involved in a car accident that left him with a back injury. In his time with the Supersonics and New Orleans Jazz, he averages 7.7 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.