KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A trailblazer for the University of Kansas men's basketball team died last week, according to KU Athletics.
LaVannes Squires, 90, was the first Black player on the Jayhawks' basketball team.
"LaVannes was a true trailblazer for Kansas men’s basketball and Kansas Athletics," KU Director of Athletics Jeff Long said in a statement. "He left an indelible impression from the first day he stepped on this campus in 1950, and continued to be a great ambassador for KU throughout his life. Not only did LaVannes break down the walls of color at KU, he did so with great success in the banking industry for many decades after his graduation."
Squires, who died Feb. 19 in Pasadena, California, also was a member of the 1952 NCAA National Championship team, according to Long. He played for KU from 1952-54 making appearances in 33 games.
KU Men's Basketball Head Coach Bill Self said Squires is an important part of the program's history.
"Primarily, he paved the way and opened doors for many to follow," Self said in a statement released by KU Athletics. "In large part, he is even more important to the history of college basketball because if he hadn’t come here, I doubt that Wilt (Chamberlain) would have come here. And that helped shape the landscape of the history of our game. It would never get as good as it is now without somebody like LaVannes Squires."
Squires was born in Hartsdale, Missouri, but raised in Wichita, Kansas. He attended Wichita East High School.