University of Alabama to retire jersey of school’s first African-American scholarship athlete
The University of Alabama on Monday announced that a jersey retirement ceremony will soon be held for the first African American scholarship athlete in the school’s history.
Fifty years ago, Wendell Hudson stepped foot on UA’s campus, breaking down a longstanding barrier and helping to open doors for generations of Bama students to come. To honor him and this legacy, Alabama Athletics will welcome back Hudson on Saturday, February 15 and hold a halftime recognition and jersey retirement at the men’s basketball game versus LSU.
While the number 20 will remain in circulation, Hudson’s jersey will become the first ever to be retired by Alabama Athletics.
Additionally, a men’s basketball scholarship has been endowed by a generous donor in Hudson’s honor and student-athlete uniforms will be adorned by a “WH” patch for the remainder of the winter and spring sport seasons.
According to the university’s athletics department, Hudson was “[n]ot only a trailblazer off the court… [but] made his mark on the court and remains one of the most decorated student-athletes in Crimson Tide men’s basketball history.”
He was recruited by the late C.M. Newton after a stellar prep career at Parker High School in Birmingham and went on to become a member of the freshman team at Alabama during the 1969-70 season before joining the varsity ranks for the next three years. For his career, Hudson recorded 1,768 points and 1,197 rebounds total over his 93 games played, averaging 19.0 points and 12.9 rebounds per contest.
In 1973, he was named a Helms Foundation First Team and Converse First Team All-American after averaging 20.7 points and 12.1 rebounds as a senior. That same season, he became Alabama’s first Southeastern Conference (SEC) Player of the Year, leading the conference in scoring. Hudson helped the Tide secure a second-place finish in the SEC and make its first postseason appearance in program history, advancing to the semifinals of the NIT.
After his collegiate career, Hudson was selected in the second round of the 1973 NBA draft by the Chicago Bulls and also played for the ABA’s Memphis Tams. He was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2001 and was honored as an SEC Legend in 2000. Hudson was also recognized in 2000 by the University of Alabama with its Paul W. Bryant Alumni-Athlete Award, which recognizes former athletes for outstanding accomplishments since leaving UA’s campus.
Monday’s announcement came on the first business day of Black History Month. The University of Alabama was recently recognized by Forbes as one of America’s best employers when it comes to diversity.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn