Alex M. Rivera Athletics Hall of Fame

John B. McLendon

John B. McLendon

  • Class
  • Induction
    1984
  • Sport(s)
    Coach
John B. McLendon's contributions to the sport of basketball are virtually in­numerable, and he personally represents the entire history of the sport. His ad­visor at Kansas State University was the inventor of basketball, Dr. James Naismith, and during the years in which he has conducted coaching clinics throughout the world he has himself become a mentor of the coaches of today.

At North Carolina College from 1937 to 1952 and as head coach from 1941 to 1952, he pioneered basketball's full court game, using such strategies as the full court press, the full court zone (now known as the zone press), the open center of­fense whose variants include the "four corners,” the rotating pivot, and the double-pivot.

With these strategies, Coach McLendon won tournament or visita­tion championships for the Eagles in 1941, 1946, 1947, 1949, 1950 and 1951. No official CIAA championships were awarded between 1943 and 1945, but with only seven men left to play for the second half of the 1944 season because of World War II, Coach McLendon still racked up a 19-1 season. The Eagles also led the CIAA in 1943.

Subsequently he achieved a collegiate coaching record of 523 wins to 165 losses or .760. His NCCU record was 264-60, or .810, better than four wins to each loss.

He was also the first black coach in a professional league (with the Cleveland Pipers in the American Basketball League in 1961) and the first black coach at a predominantly white university (Cleveland State employed him in June, 1966).
 

Additional Information...

John B. McLendon
Enshrined into Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame: As a contributor on April 30, 1979
Born: April 5, 1915 in Hiawatha, KS
Died: October 8, 1999
NCCU: Head Coach, 1940-1952

John B. McLendon’s contributions to the sport of basketball are virtually innumerable. His advisor at the University of Kansas was the inventor of basketball, Dr. James Naismith. At North Carolina College from 1937 to 1952, and as head basketball coach from 1940 to 1952, he pioneered basketball’s full court game, using such strategies as the full court press, the full court zone (now known as the zone press), the open center offense whose variants include the “four corners,” the rotating pivot, and the double-pivot. In 38 years as a head coach, he achieved a collegiate coaching record of 523 wins to 165 losses for a .760 winning percentage, including a 239-68 record at NCC. He was also the first black coach in a professional basketball league (with the Cleveland Pipers in the American Basketball League in 1961) and the first black coach at a predominantly white university (Cleveland State employed him in June 1966).

Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Bio:
John B. McLendon’s engaging personality made him a popular basketball figure for more than 60 years. His extraordinary knowledge of basketball history made him one of the game’s leading ambassadors. But, it is his coaching resume that makes many in the profession envious. McLendon, who learned basketball from Dr. James Naismith as an undergraduate at Kansas, is the first coach in history to win three consecutive national titles. McLendon earned this honor by guiding Tennessee State to the 1957, 1958 and 1959 NAIA national championships. McLendon championed for heightened awareness of basketball at all-black colleges, and helped initiate an era of integrated basketball. McLendon’s well-rounded coaching background included positions at the collegiate, AAU and professional level. He coached North Carolina College, Hampton Institute, Tennessee State, Kentucky State and Cleveland State along with the Cleveland Pipers (NIB-ABL) and the Denver Rockets (ABA). Named the 1958 NAIA Coach of the Year, McLendon coached teams that won eight CIAA titles between 1941 and 1952, the NIBL and AAU championships in 1961, and the ABL Eastern Division crown in 1962. McLendon, who has traveled the world promoting basketball, wrote two books, Fast Break Basketball and The Fast Break Game.