Gene Wilson, who became the first black player to receive a basketball scholarship at Kansas State in 1950 as well as one of the first to break the color barrier in the Big Seven Conference in 1951-52, will be honored for his trailblazing accomplishments at Saturday’s Dillons Sunflower Showdown.
During his two stints at K-State from 1950-52 and 1954-56, Wilson, along with Kansas’ LaVannes Squires, became the first black basketball players in the Big Seven Conference (forerunner of the Big Eight and Big 12). A two-sport athlete for the Wildcats, Wilson was also one of five to break the color barrier in track and field.
Squires became the first African-American to play basketball at Kansas in 1951-52 and was a member of the school’s 1952 National Championship team.
The men’s basketball team will wear shooting shirt with Wilson’s name and number (3) during pregame warmups, while both teams will wear patches on their respective uniforms that will include both Wilson’s No. 3 and Squires’ No. 6 numbers in the shape of the state of Kansas.
Both men will be honored for their historical accomplishments posthumously, as Wilson passed away at the age of 89 in the summer of 2020, while Squires passed in February 2021.
Saturday’s recognition is part of school’s annual Diversity and Inclusion Game and will include a video as well as slates on the Jumbotron during the game.