Dave Stallworth’s Shocker basketball teammates want to honor him with a life-size statue.
The idea is as solid as Stallworth’s credentials from his All-American career at Wichita State from 1961-65. The plan is in its early stages, still subject to changes.
The proposed location of the statue — outside Intrust Bank Arena — requires some explaining and time to ponder its merits.
Stallworth, in the minds of teammates and longtime Shocker fans, earned special recognition for the landmark nature of his career.
“No doubt he has that status,” said Xavier McDaniel, another Shocker great who, like Stallworth, is one of the five players honored with a retired jersey. “A statue would be fitting for Dave.”
Why downtown and not in front of the on-campus arena that Stallworth made famous?
Choosing one of its many athletes — basketball or other sports — to honor on its campus in that monumental manner is not something Wichita State has done. And it’s not a step the university is prepared to take, at least at this point.
WSU is aware of the fundraising project, but not involved, athletic director Darron Boatright said. He said he discussed the project with Bob Powers, a member of the 1965 Final Four team who is among several organizers.
“After a couple conversations, he came away thinking maybe the best place for it would be somewhere downtown,” Boatright said. “Statues of individuals that have been part of our history in athletics is not something we have done previously. If we were to change that we would have to determine what accomplishments would render someone worthy of a memorial of that type.”
While Powers understands the logic of Koch Arena as the site, he can also make a case for Intrust Bank Arena.
“There are a lot of events there drawing people from all over the state,” Powers said. “There are many, many civic events held at Intrust Arena. Wichita State plays there.”
Powers said he assured Sedgwick County commissioners that Stallworth’s teammates will handle all fundraising at no cost to the county. County manager Michael Scholes said he forwarded information to the county commissioners.
Scholes said the county will talk to the arena staff and arena naming partners before making a recommendation to the board. Part of the analysis will look at the cost and the space needed for the project.
Sedgwick County owns Intrust Bank Arena.
The Shocker group is starting fundraising with a total of around $200,000 as the goal for a bronze statue, roughly 6 1/2 feet high, of Stallworth. Also under consideration to complement the statue are plaques or markers that recognize other WSU All-Americans.
“We’re going to take care of all of it,” Powers said. “The only thing I want from them is the square feet where it’s going to be placed.”
The group has chosen Tucson artist Ann LaRose to sculpt the statue, Powers said.
“I think we can get 100 Shocker fans to give $1,000,” Powers said. “I think we can get 10 corporations to give $5,000. We’re committed to putting this thing together, whatever it takes.”
Stallworth, 75, died in March. Teammates Melvin Reed and Mohammed Sharif talked to Powers after the memorial service at Koch Arena to discuss ways to honor Stallworth.
“Dave was special,” said former teammate Tommy Newman. “We think Dave needs to be remembered, not only for what he did for the Shockers and Wichita and the university, there’s also the fact he came back and made it his home.”
Stallworth, a do-everything forward from Dallas, carried the Shockers into their first run as a national power. He earned Associated Press All-America honors in 1964 (first team) and 1965 (second team) after helping the Shockers become a nationally prominent program.
Before Stallworth, the Shockers had not won a Missouri Valley Conference title, played in the NCAA Tournament, ascended to a top-10 national ranking or averaged more than 7,000 fans at the arena then known as the WU Fieldhouse.
After Stallworth’s arrival on the varsity in 1962, the Shockers did all that, and more.
The Shockers won Missouri Valley Conference titles in 1964 and 1965 and played in the NCAA Tournament both seasons. They ascended to the top spot in the Associated Press poll on Dec. 15, 1964, on their way to the 1965 Final Four.
Stallworth, nicknamed “Dave the Rave,” ranks third on Wichita State’s career scoring list. He totaled 1,936 points, averaging 24.2 a season. He also averaged 10.5 rebounds and made 53 percent of his shots.
His No. 42 jersey is one of five retired at WSU, and he was in the Missouri Valley’s inaugural Hall of Fame class in 1997 — alongside Larry Bird, Oscar Robertson, Wes Unseld, Ed Macauley, Hersey Hawkins and coach Henry Iba.
“As great as some of the players were that came after him, and before him in the case of Cleo (Littleton), Dave was probably at the highest level of recognition and accomplishment in the history of the program,” said Mike Kennedy, radio voice of the Shockers since 1980. “Cleo got the process started. Dave’s accomplishments really solidified them as a program on the national spectrum. He stands a little above other pretty significant players.”
Dave the Rave
▪ Scored 1,936 points, No. 3 on Wichita State’s career list.
▪ Averaged 24.2 points for his career, tops on the career list.
▪ Earned consensus All-American honors in 1964 (first team) and 1965 (second team).
▪ Earned All-Missouri Valley Conference honors in 1963, 1964, 1965.
▪ Drafted in the first round (No. 3 overall) by the New York Knicks in 1965. Played eight NBA seasons and won a title with the 1970 Knicks.