It’s a hard day here at BotC World Headquarters, as news has finally reached Wildcat Nation of the passing of one of its greatest legends. Willie Murrell, the star of Kansas State Wildcats last Final Four squad in 1964, died on December 6 at the age of 78 in the Denver suburb of Commerce City, Colo. Murrell’s remembrance has already been held.
A native of Taft, Okla., a town with a rather fascinating history, Murrell transferred to K-State from Eastern Oklahoma A&M in Wilburton (now Eastern Oklahoma State) and immediately made an impact under the tutelage of the late Tex Winter. The Wildcats claimed the Big Eight title both seasons Murrell spent in Manhattan, and as a senior he led K-State to the promised land. He averaged a double-double over his Wildcat career, scoring 20.6 points per game and hauling in 10.7 rebounds. His 28 points against Wichita State in the Midwest Regional final sent the Cats to the Final Four, where they eventually succumbed to the mighty UCLA juggernaut despite 29 points and 13 rebounds from the 1964 Big Eight Player of the Year and honorable mention All-American.
Murrell was drafted by the Saint Louis Hawks of the NBA, but already 24 at the time, he wasn’t able to stick. He later went on to a three-season career in the ABA, where he managed to score 13.1 points per game but by then he was already 30 and he retired.
In 2009, Murrell had his jersey retired by K-State. Sadly, his health prevented him from attending the 50th Anniversary celebration of his team’s Final Four run back in 2014, so his passing comes as no great surprise.
For those who aren’t familiar with Murrell, he has featured heavily in some of our older content and you’re welcome to check it out and get an idea of how big a deal he really was. He was the star of the #2 spot in your benevolent despot’s countdown of K-State’s top 15 basketball seasons back in 2012, and he also featured in our 2017 piece on the K-State/Cincinnati rivalry, dropping 25 on the Bearcats in a December 1963 game which went into the final second tied at 70 before the Wildcats had their guts ripped out.
Rest in peace, Willie. You won’t be forgotten.
K-State didn’t stop working on Wednesday. Thursday morning, Riley Gates of GPC reported that DL/LB Joseph Flax, a native of Hays, is transferring to K-State from the Air Force Academy as a preferred walk-on. He’ll have to redshirt in 2019, but he’ll be a 3x3 afterward.
Kellis Robinett has some more juice on the new boss, reporting that Chris Klieman is bringing some firepower to Wildcat recruiting.
Rachel Ranke dropped 17 and Peyton Williams didn’t get a double-double but still scored in double digits for the 15th straight game, and K-State waltzed to a 70-54 win over Central Arkansas last night to improve to 8-3. They’ll be taking the holidays off, returning to Bramlage at 1:00pm on December 29 against Northern Iowa as they conclude their non-conference schedule. That game is part of a day-night doubleheader, as the men play George Mason that evening.
That’s it for today, but stay tuned in just about 45 minutes for the newest edition of Bring on the PodCats featuring... Ian Campbell!