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Solly Walker, basketball pioneer, dies at 85

Former St. John's University basketball great Solly Walker,

Former St. John's University basketball great Solly Walker, passed away April 28, 2017. Walker was the first African-American player to ever wear a St. John's uniform, lettered from 1951-54. Photo Credit: St. John’s University

Solly Walker, a St. John’s basketball star in the 1950s and the school’s first black player, has died. He was 85.

He died Friday but no other details were disclosed by the school yesterday.

In his first season on the varsity, Walker, on Dec. 17, 1951, became the first black player to compete in a basketball game against Kentucky on the Wildcats’ home court.

St. John’s reached the NCAA championship game that season, the first of two Final Four appearances in the school’s history. He averaged 4.4 points and 3.8 rebounds that season.

In 1952-53, the 6-foot-4 swingman helped St. John’s advance to the National Invitation Tournament title game by averaging 7.0 points and 6.0 rebounds. His finest season came as a senior in 1953-54 when he topped the team in scoring (14) and rebounding (12.2).

Walker was drafted by the Knicks but chose a career with the New York City Board of Education, eventually becoming a principal at a Manhattan school. In 1993, he was inducted into the St. John’s athletic hall of fame.

Walker was born in 1932 in South Carolina and moved to Brooklyn with his family as a child. He starred at Boys High School in Brooklyn.

A memorial service is scheduled for Monday at Siloam Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn. — AP

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