Fabulous 50: First African American Men's Basketball Players

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The 1967-1968 men's freshmen basketball team was the first at NC State with African American players. William Cooper is first from right in the front row. Al Heartley is second from left in the middle row.

NC State’s first African American men’s basketball players were Al Heartley and William Cooper, who joined the freshman team in the fall of 1967.  The next year Heartley, a guard, became the first African American to receive a basketball scholarship at the university.  He later joined the varsity team, where he was the first African-American team captain (1970-1971) and the first African-American to win the Alumni Athletics Award (1971).

Al Heartley (No. 32), ca. 1970.  Heartley was the first African American captain of NC State's men's basketball team.

Al Heartley (No. 32) in a game against Maryland, 1969 or 1970 (photo by Ed Caram)

Learn more about the history of African Americans at NC State in our Historical State Timeline, and also in the African American Cultural Center's "Firsts" exhibit in the AACC Gallery, 2nd floor of Witherspoon Student Center, open through November 15!