Charlie B. Black, also known as “The Hawk” by his teammates and fans, is perhaps one of the most-decorated players in Kansas history to have his jersey hang from the rafters of Allen Fieldhouse.
Black was not only a four-time All-Big Six Conference player, but he is also the only player in Kansas history to be a four-time first-team All-American. In honor of his memory, the Jayhawks locker room at Allen Fieldhouse is named after him.
The Arco, Idaho, native graduated from Southwest High School in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1940, which closed its doors in 2016. Black spent his freshman year at the University of Wisconsin studying agriculture before making the move back to the Kansas City area to play basketball for the Jayhawks in 1941.
In his first season with Kansas, Black made an instant impact, earning his first of four All-American honors en route to a 17-5 season for the Jayhawks. In his second season, along with Kansas great Ray Evans, Black led the Jayhawks to their fourth-consecutive Big Six title with a record of 22-6.
One of 32 Jayhawks with a jersey retired in Allen Fieldhouse, Charlie T. Black garnered many awards as a guard. The All-American standout played under Phog Allen from 1922-24.
In a year when Kansas looked destined for an NCAA title, Kansas’ squad was torn apart, as all of its players were sent off to fight in World War II after its final regular season game. During the war, Capt. Black won a Distinguished Flying Cross, completing 51 missions as a reconnaissance pilot for the Army Air Corps.
Upon his return to Kansas in 1945, Black recorded his most successful season in a Kansas jersey as a junior, posting an average of 16.3 points per game and 326 points for the season. That year, with help from Hall of Famer Otto Schnellbacher, Black earned his third All-American honor, as the Jayhawks finished the season 19-2, with the only two losses coming to eventual NCAA champions Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State). Black also led the conference in scoring that year, the only year he managed to do so.
Black’s senior year at Kansas didn’t demonstrate the extraordinary success that he experienced in his first three years, as the Jayhawks fell to a 16-11 record, with Black only recording an average of 11.3 points per game. Despite this, Black surpassed the 1,000-point mark, the first Jayhawk to do so, as he scored 305 points in 27 games to reach 1,082 total points over his four years.
This drop in form unfortunately coincided with the period of time Phog Allen had to sit out for half of the season, recovering from the flu. Despite this, Black earned his fourth and final All-American honor, becoming the only player to do so at the time. Since then, only one other player has achieved the same feat, with LaSalle’s Tom Gola doing so 10 years later.
After his Kansas career, Black headed to the National Basketball League with the Anderson Packers, before heading to the NBA with the Fort Wayne Pistons, Indianapolis Jets and Milwaukee Hawks. He eventually retired from basketball in 1952, before settling down as a farmer in Kansas and then managing a welding supply company in Arkansas.
Black saw his jersey retired in 1992, before passing away later that year at the age of 71.