For decades, the Harlem Globetrotters have been wowing kids and adults alike with trick shots, comedic timing and buckets… sometimes filled with water.
For the better part of this decade, Jimmy Blacklock has been coaching the Globetrotters – drawing from his own 13-plus years playing for the organization. But before touring 98 countries and countless television appearances, Blacklock’s career got its start right here in Austin at the University of Texas.
“Well, he was the quickest guard I ever coached, and I coached some good ones,” said Leon Black, who coached the University of Texas basketball team from 1967 to 1976. He recruited Blacklock from Tyler Junior College for the 1970-71 season.
“He was quick to a point that the other players in the conference couldn’t defend him and he scored a lot of points,” said Black.
Blacklock led the team in scoring his junior season, averaging more than 16-and-a-half points a game. He became the first African-American to lead the Longhorns in scoring.
The desegregation of Texas athletics had really just taken its first big steps. The Board of Regents officially deemed it okay for blacks and whites to play varsity sports together back in 1963, but the school had trouble getting past its reputation. There were trailblazers, like Sam Bradley, who entered UT on a track scholarship, but also played some on Coach Black’s first three basketball teams. But the big breakthroughs came in 1970.