Fmr. UCLA Basketball Great Walt Hazzard Dies at 69

College SportsUCLA BruinsCollege BasketballBasketballNCAAHealthPacific-12 Conference

LOS ANGELES -- UCLA Basketball great, Walt Hazzard, passed away this afternoon at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center following a long illness.

He was 69 years old.

Hazzard's family said he had been recuperating for a long time from complications following heart surgery. The school said Hazzard died at UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center.

He had a stroke in March 1996 and made a strong recovery, but became less publicly active. He made occasional appearances at UCLA games in recent years.

"This is a sad day for the UCLA basketball family," said Bruin athletic director Dan Guerrero said in a press release from UCLA.

"Walt was the catalyst for Coach John Wooden's first championship team and played the game with a style that excited Bruin basketball fans everywhere. He contributed to his alma mater in numerous ways, including as a student-athlete, coach and honored alum, and he will be greatly missed by all of us know knew him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Jaleesa, and their four sons."

"Walt was one of the pillars of UCLA's first championship team in men's basketball," said UCLA head men's basketball coach Ben Howland.

"He was a great player and an outstanding coach at UCLA. He is a huge part of the Bruin legacy, and he left life-long memories for the Bruin faithful. We will all miss Walt, and we send our love to his family."

Hazzard transferred to UCLA after spending one season (1960-61) at Santa Monica College and began his memorable collegiate career playing for the legendary John Wooden.

As a sophomore in 1961-62, he averaged 13.2 points, but it was his fantastic ball-handling and passing skills that separated him from other players. With Hazzard running the show, the Bruins won 14 of 18 games to reach the NCAA Final Four for the first time in school history, losing by two points to eventual champion Cincinnati and by two points to Wake Forest in the consolation game.

As a junior, Hazzard earned All-America honors from several organizations, including the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. He led the Bruins with his 16.3 scoring average and UCLA won 20 games for the first time since 1957, tying Stanford for the AAWU title and winning a playoff.

As a senior, the playmaking guard led the Bruins to the summit of the collegiate basketball world, establishing the foundation of what would become the UCLA Dynasty. He averaged a career-high 18.6 points, second on the squad, and was the driving force behind UCLA's first NCAA championship. The team's co-captain, he earned consensus All-America honors and was named college basketball's Player of the Year. He averaged 19.8 points in his four NCAA games, and was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.

In his three-year career, he led the Bruins to a record of 68-20, two Finals Fours and their first NCAA title. He left UCLA as the school's career scoring leader, and his total of 1,401 points (16.1 average) still ranks 25th on UCLA's all-time list, while his average ranks eighth among players who competed for at least two seasons.

In the summer of 1964, he was selected to the U.S. Olympic team and helped the United States win a Gold medal in Tokyo, Japan.

Hazzard was a first-round selection of the Los Angeles Lakers, he played 724 regular-season games and averaged 12.6 points and 4.9 assists during his 10-year career with Los Angeles, Seattle, Atlanta, Buffalo and Golden State.

Six times during those 10 seasons, he ranked among the NBA's Top 10 assists leaders.

Following his NBA career, he became head coach at Compton College prior to the 1980-81 school year and, in two seasons, compiled a record of 53-9 and reached the California state junior college championship game once.

He moved to Chapman College in Orange County prior to the 1982-83 season.

On March 26, 1984, Hazzard was named the ninth head coach in UCLA history.

During his four years, the Bruins compiled a record of 77-47. In 1985, they won 12 of their last 13 games, including the final eight, to win the school's first National Invitation Tournament championship.

In 1987, UCLA won the Pac-10 title and first-ever Pac-10 Post-Season Tournament, reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament and finished with a record of 25-7, and Hazzard was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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