KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The last of the eight 1952 men’s basketball Olympic champions from the University of Kansas, Bill Lienhard was born in Texas but moved to Newton, Kansas, as a high school sophomore.
He was a state champion with the Railers in 1946 and all-state performer in 1948 as a senior, leading all Kansas players in scoring, according to a 2013 article in The Kansan.
That landed him at the University of Kansas, where he was a senior captain on the 1952 NCAA championship squad.
Lienhard was fifth on the Jayhawks in both scoring (5.8 points) and rebounds (3.2 rebounds). He had 12 points against St. John’s in the NCAA title game.
During the Olympics, Lienhard averaged 18 points in six games for the unbeaten U.S. squad.
Lienhard, who is part of the Newton High School and KU athletic halls of fame, was elected to the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.
He also played basketball after joining the Air Force.
Several of Lienhard's teammates at KU — Bill Hougland, Dean Kelley, Al Kelley, Bob Kenney, Charlie Hoag, John Keller and Clyde Lovellette — also played on the 1952 Olympic gold medal team along with Mizzou’s Dan Pippin.
The Kansas City region has a deep, rich history with respect to the Olympic Games. As the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games approach with the Opening Ceremony scheduled for July 23, we will profile an athlete with ties to Kansas City, Missouri or Kansas each day.
41 Action News and KSHB.com is your home of the Tokyo Olympics. Follow our coverage at kshb.com/sports/olympics and check out our complete list of 100 Kansas City-area Olympians as it is revealed.