July 2018

Henry Lee Logan

Henry Lee Logan

As the first African-American collegiate athlete to play at a predominantly white institution in the southeastern United States, Henry Logan blazed a trail for integration in the region.

A native of Asheville, Logan first picked up a basketball while in the 7th grade, quickly discovering that “God had blessed me with the talent to score and jump.”

Leading the all-black Stephens-Lee High School to a state basketball championship as a sophomore caught the eye of Jim Gudger, head basketball coach of Western Carolina University, who offered Logan a scholarship. Although he had competing offers from larger, national schools, Logan chose Western.

“My mother was my inspiration for going to Western because she wanted me to be close to home,” he said. “And she wanted me to be the first black there.”

When he arrived on campus in 1964, he immediately felt at home because everyone was “so nice.”

At the time, WCU competed in the NAIA against other small schools and Logan thrived, averaging 30.7 points per game in an era with no dunks and no three- point line. Shrugging off racial slurs at opposing campuses, he scored 3,290 points during his career, a school record that still stands.

Logan was the NAIA leader in scoring as a senior, averaging 36.2 points despite missing some games due to injury. He was a four-time NAIA and Associated Press All-America Selection from 1965-1968 and still holds WCU records for the highest career points average, most points in one game, and most points in a season.

In 1968, Logan was drafted by teams from the two competing professional leagues, the NBA and ABA.  He chose the Oakland Oaks over the Seattle Supersonics, and helped the Oaks win the ABA championship in 1969. He played on the gold medal team in the Pan American Games.

Injuries eventually ended Logan’s professional career after the 1971 season, but not before he played with several Hall of Famers including Julius Erving, Rick Barry, and former player and coach Larry Brown.

After basketball, Logan worked for Rockwell International and as a recreation director in several cities, including Asheville and Marion in North Carolina and Memphis in Tennessee.

Now retired, he and his wife of 27 years, Barbara, live in Asheville, where they enjoy visits from their three children: Henry Jr., Terry, Tequia and two grandchildren, Keni and Kasen.

While Logan still cherishes the memories of his basketball accomplishments, his Christian faith means more to him today. Currently a member of Faith Tabernacle Christian Center, he is active in an array Christian outreach programs.

He is a popular speaker at churches and youth organizations.

“Kids need to know to put their trust in Christ Jesus, listen to their parents and to get that education,” he said. “I tell them that if you got the talent, you’re going to play sports. But you need to have somebody greater than you are and that’s God.”

 

 

By Tristian Reid