Skip to main content

North Carolina Basketball Legend Passes Away At 89

A general view of the North Carolina Tar Heels court.

CHAPEL HILL, NC - MARCH 05: Tyler Thornton #3 of the Duke Blue Devils watches as teammates John Henson #31, Dexter Stickland #1 and Harrison Barnes #40 of the North Carolina Tar Heels celebrate during their game against the Duke Blue Devils at the Dean E. Smith Center on March 5, 2011 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

North Carolina basketball legend Lennie Rosenbluth passed away on Saturday, the team announced with an official release.

He was 89 years old.

Rosenbluth was a superstar hooper for the Tar Heels' undefeated, National Championship team under head coach Frank McGuire in 1957. He scored 20 points in the Tar Heels' title victory over Wilt Chamberlain and Kansas, pushing the team's record to a flawless 32-0 and capping off his National Player of the Year season.

His 28.0 points per game and 897 total points are still all-time, single-season program records.

The UNC small forward was named first-team All-ACC in each of his three seasons in Chapel Hill spanning from 1955-57. He finished his collegiate career with 2,047 points — all without a three-point line. That figure still holds the program record for a three-year Tar Heel.

He became the program's first first-round NBA draft pick when he was selected by the Philadelphia Warriors with the No. 6 overall pick in 1957.

"He had such a dignity about him," former head coach Roy Williams said in a statement. "The guys who came after him, they talked about Lennie with reverence. There was always something special about him."

"He was one of the first players who started the foundation of Carolina basketball," former UNC superstar Tyler Hansbrough added. "He helped make it what it is today. He embraced the family aspect and showed his support, especially when I was in school. It meant a lot to me and he was a great example."

Rosenbluth's No. 10 jersey was retired and hangs in the rafters of the Dean E. Smith Center.

His legacy as a Tar Heel will live on forever.