The Glory Days of Texas Southern Basketball
Charles P. Adams was the son of Grambling State founder Charles P. Adams and would go on to become the sixth head football coach at the North Carolina College for Negroes (now known as North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina).
He held that position for the 1936 season, compiling a record of 4–3-1 and coached the men’s basketball team during the 1936–37 season. (He preceded the legendary John B. McLendon, Jr. whom NCC president Dr. James E. Shepard hired to take over the team.
He left to coach at his alma mater, Tuskegee University to a 200-81 record from 1937 to 1949.
He took over the in 1949 in nine years, Adams had four 30-plus wins seasons, five Southwestern Athletic Conference titles and compiled a 264-54 record.
His teams finished second in the NAIA Nationals in 1955-56, reached the quarterfinals in 1956-57 and was third in 1957-58.
Adams amassed a career coaching record of 464–135 before his coaching career was cut short in 1958 as he passed away from a cerebral hemorrhage.
The former Adams Gym on the TSU campus was named after him.
His teams were led by some outstanding players like center Bennie Swain, point guard Woody Saulsberry, Benny Roy, Freddie Maura, and Willie Taylor.
[img] Swain led the nation in scoring during the 1957-58 season and was named a First Team All-American.
He was the school’s all-time leading scorer (until Harry “Machine Gun” Kelly passed him in 1981) and the NAIA all-time leading scorer from 1955-58. In 15 tournament games, he had 119 field goals, 64 free throws, 302 total points and 20.1 average per game.
Swain was the Boston Celtics First Round pick (seventh overall) of the 1958 NBA Draft. In his only NBA season, he played in 58 games for the Celtics as a backup to Hall of Famer Bill Russell.
Benny High school basketball coach in Houston at Lincoln High School, 1970-76, Jones High School, 1980-89 and later at Ryan Middle School in 1999.
Texas Southern University Hall of Fame, 1976.
In his sophomore season, Woody Sauldsberry helped Texas Southern win the annual Black College Championship Tournament and the Tigers went 32-0 in Sauldsberry’s junior year on their way to 53 straight wins.
In 1956, Texas Southern finished second in the NAIA tournament.
Saulsberry was a much sought-after pro prospect but first toured the world with the Harlem Globetrotters from 1955-57 before the Philadelphia Warriors drafted him in the 8th round (5th pick, 60th overall) of the 1957 NBA Draft.
He joined the Warriors from 1957-60 and was named the 1958 NBA Rookie of the Year after scoring 1112 points and 826 rebounds, only the second Black player to win the award behind Maurice Stokes (1956).
Saulsberry later signed with the St. Louis Hawks and was named the Most Valuable Player of the Western Division playoffs.
Before ending his pro career, Woody played with the New Haven Elms in the Eastern Professional Basketball League (EPBL); the Chicago Packers/Zephyrs in the new American Basketball Association (ABA) from 1961-63 and with the NBA Boston Celtics in his final season in 1965 – 1966.
Woody After his playing days, Sauldsberry worked with Sonny Hill to establish the Baker Basketball League in Philadelphia, a legendary summer showplace for Philly youth.
He joined the President’s Council on Physical Fitness as the organization’s public spokesperson
Freddie Maura was a four-year starter and impact player for one of the most dominant eras in Tiger basketball history. Playing the guard spot, he led the Tigers to three SWAC Championships (1956, ’57, ’58) and a second-place finish in 1959.
Maura earned 1957-58 All-SWAC First Team honors and was named to the second team in 1958-59.
Freddie In 1960, he would become a successful high school coach in the city of Houston.