The IU basketball program will celebrate Indiana Athletics Hall of Fame member and Big Ten trailblazer Bill Garrett at its regular season opener against Florida Gulf Coast on Tuesday, Nov. 7, at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, the program announced on Tuesday via release.
The contest will be celebrated officially as the ‘Bill Garrett Game’ to recognize the 75th anniversary of the season when Garrett broke Big Ten Basketball’s unofficial color barrier. That landmark moment came during IU’s Dec. 4, 1948, season opener when Garrett became the first black player to start for a Big Ten team.
IU also released remarks from coach Mike Woodson on Garrett:
🗣 We were ahead of the game.
Indiana will recognize the 75th anniversary of the season when Bill Garrett broke @B1GMBBall‘s color barrier on 11/7.
— Indiana Basketball (@IndianaMBB) October 24, 2023
In a salute to the momentous event, IU will provide specialty game programs to replicate those used during Garrett’s debut varsity game and season in 1948-49.
Playing for coach Branch McCracken, Garrett led IU to very successful run.
In his three seasons of varsity basketball, Garrett helped guide the Hoosiers to a record of 50-13, including a 19-3 mark in 1950-51, a season that culminated with the No. 7 ranking in the final Associated Press poll.
Garrett was voted the most valuable player of the season by his teammates, named All-Big Ten first team, and recognized as a consensus All-American following the 1950-51 campaign. The NCAA coaches also elected him as a write-in for the college all-star team after his name was left off the ballot.
At the time of his graduation, Garrett held the Indiana men’s basketball scoring record at 792 points after leading IU in total scoring each of his three varsity seasons.
Garrett became the third black player ever drafted in the NBA after Boston selected him in the second round of the 1951 Draft. He graduated in June of 1951 with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education.
The 1947 Indiana Mr. Basketball led Shelbyville to its first high school basketball state championship with a then-tournament record 91 points. He also led the Indiana All-Stars to victory over Kentucky before enrolling at Indiana University.
Garrett’s son Billy was at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall last November as an assistant coach with Bethune Cookman. The Daily Hoosier caught up with the younger Garrett after that contest:
For complete coverage of IU basketball, GO HERE.
The Daily Hoosier –“Where Indiana fans assemble when they’re not at Assembly”