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New Documentary - "Fast Break: The Legendary John McLendon" - Airs on Public Television

Fast Break, a new documentary about basketball coaching legend John McLendon airs on public TV stations this month. The film was directed by KU Professor Kevin Willmott.

A number of well-known basketball coaches have been associated with the University of Kansas: James Naismith, Phog Allen, Adolph Rupp, Dean Smith, Larry Brown, Roy Williams and, of course, the current KU coach, Bill Self. But what about John McLendon? The two-time inductee into the Basketball Hall of Fame is less famous, but arguably, just as important. A new documentary about the life and times of this lesser-known coach airs on public television tonight (MON). The film is called: Fast Break: The Legendary John McLendon. The movie was directed by Kevin Willmott, a University of Kansas Professor of Film and Media Studies. KPR's J. Schafer spoke with Willmott to learn more about the African-American coach who helped integrate the game of basketball.

That's KU film professor Kevin Willmott, talking about his latest documentary, Fast Break: The Legendary John McLendon. He was speaking with KPR's J. Schafer. "Fast Break" airs tonight (MON) at 8:30 on KCPT, Kansas City Public Television.   

(Longer interview)

John McLendon was an early pioneer of game preparation, conditioning, the fast break and the full court press. His teams played the first collegiate integrated game in Washington, D.C., and the South.

Other Firsts
McLendon was:

  • the first African-American to graduate KU with a degree in physical education.
  • the first coach to win three consecutive national titles in the NAIA tournament.
  • the first black coach of an integrated professional team.
  • the first black coach at a predominately white college.
  • the first black coach to compete in international competition.
  • the first black coach on the U.S. Olympic basketball staff.
  • the first African-American to serve on the U.S. Olympic committee.


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