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October 22, 2006

Lou Hudson comes back to the U

Before Friday night's Maroon-Gold scrimmage at Williams Arena, the Minnesota Gophers honored one of the all time greats in the history of Golden Gopher Basketball. Number 14 "Sweet" Lou Hudson took the floor to the cheers of the people in the stands and he waived as the Gopher crowd honored him. Hudson's jersey was retired on March 5th of 1994 and he is the 15th all-time leading scorer at the U with 1,329 points in 65 career games.

Hudson was also known as "Super Lou" and "Sweet Lou" for his smooth game and sweet jumpshot. In 1966 at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, Hudson was drafted by the St. Louis Hawks becoming the first Gopher ever to be drafted in the first round of the NBA. Pro scouts watched Hudson drop 30 points as a senior with a broken hand and that convinced them that he had the talent and toughness to play in the NBA.

Hudson averaged 18.4 points per game his rookie year and was named to the All-NBA rookie team. The following season, he was called to serve in the military and did not rejoin the team until 1968. In the 1969-70 season, Lou earned his first of six NBA All-Star appearances. Hudson played 13 seasons in the NBA playing for the Hawks and the LA Lakers.

As a Gopher, it is often pointed out that Sweet Lou played his senior year with a broken wrist. For years my father talked about Hudson playing a full game with blood all over after hitting his head on the backboard. Lou scored with a huge repertoire of moves and he could leap and sprint with the best. Plus Hudson was a dominant defender in addition to averaging 20 points for his three-year varsity career.

Hudson resides in Park City, Utah where he suffered a stroke 20 months ago. He is now confined to a wheelchair but was in great spirits and looking good back at the Barn this weekend. The fans at the U were quite responsive as they were treated to the return of a Gopher legend who many swill still say is the greatest all around Gopher basketball player of all time.

Hudson was recruited to the U and coached by the great John Kundla. He was also drafted in the NFL on his athletic potential but played 13 years in NBA. His number was retired by the Atlanta Hawks for his 18,000 career points. Hudson had a career high of 57 points against the Chicago Bulls in 1967 and he left the game in 1979 as the NBA's 12th all-time leading scorer.


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