Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Basketball legend Wendell Hudson keeps tradition going

Since his return to the University of Alabama in March 2008, Wendell Hudson has made his mark once again on the pages of Capstone history.

Hudson took his first steps to fame at Alabama as a student in 1969. He was not only the first African American student to receive not only a basketball scholarship, but also the first African American student to receive an athletic scholarship of any kind at Alabama.

He dealt with the segregation in an honorable fashion and looked the other way when racial slurs were fired his direction. Hudson worked hard to prove that he earned his scholarship and soon became an All-American player on the newly integrated team.

Under what today would look like a considerable amount of pressure, Hudson held his unofficial title with pride.

“Being 18 years old you don’t realize the weight you carry,” Hudson said. “But I did feel like I had to be successful.”

He led the SEC in rebounds in 1972 and in scoring in 1973, claiming Most Valuable Player in the conference in ‘73.

Hudson used his time at Alabama wisely, on and off the court, to set the bar high for future Crimson Tide players. He contributed to recruitment as well, helping to sign several more African American players and integrate the University’s basketball program during his four years. He graduated in 1973 with a Bachelors of Science degree.

“If I could go back, I’d do it all again without hesitation,” said Hudson.

After graduation, Hudson was drafted into the NBA in the second round to the Chicago Bulls. Soon after, he was drafted again, in the first round to the ABA’s Memphis Tams. Hudson had spent only a short time with both professional teams, when he realized where he truly wanted to direct his ambition: to coaching, helping developing basketball players accomplish their dreams of being great.

A full year after graduating he headed back to his alma mater to be an assistant coach to C.M. Newton until 1979. In his five years as an assistant coach, the Tide gained three straight SEC Championship titles and one Sweet Sixteen visit in 1976.

When he left Alabama for the second time, he accepted coaching jobs at North Alabama, Rice, Ole Miss, Baylor and McLennan Community College. At McLennan in Waco, Texas, Hudson also served as the school’s Athletic Director until 2003.

In September 2003, Hudson returned home to Alabama to take the job of Associate Athletic Director for Alumni Relations. He held the alumni relations position for nearly five years until he accepted the women’s head coaching offer in early 2008.

Hudson is back for his third consecutive year with the Tide, as the head coach of the women’s basketball team. In his time as head coach, the Tide has improved its pre-SEC standings. Its 12-3 finish in the 2008-09 season was its best in 10 years. Hudson and his coaching staff also helped raise the team’s consecutive wins to six, a new record since 2002, all in his first year back on board.

“We’re making progress and that’s all I ask,” said Hudson. “Now we must continue to take steps in the right direction.”

Hudson pushes his team both on the court and in the classroom. His girls have to make the grade to make the team. As of April 2010, the women’s basketball team had five more players to add to the Tide’s No. 1 ranked SEC Academic Honor Roll list.

According to Hudson, coaches must always be passionate about the job they do, but coaching at his alma mater makes his enthusiasm that much stronger.

“This isn’t just a day job,” Hudson said. “It makes you passionate in all aspects.”

Hudson is just shy of 28 years with both men’s and women’s coaching under his belt and has held a spot in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame since 2001. This dynamic player-turned-coach has been and will remain an asset to Alabama for years to come.

More to Discover