His name was Henry Logan. The first black player (actually Western had a second black freshman) in the league.
I have watched, played, coached, etc. basketball for fifty-five years. As inte- gration took hold, nowhere more prominent than in college athletics, we watched some real transformation. I’m often asked to compare current, same level, inte- grated teams to the all white teams of the earlier south. One year we played an Alumni game at Atlantic Christian featuring guys from both eras. Granted, my contemporaries were in their forties, but the black guys blew by us at a speed that was remarkable.
I had coached and taught Lorenzo Jones, now a Craven County high school coach. Dressing later I joked with Lo, “Jones, you damn guys are fast. I guess that’s why we didn’t let you play in our day!” Lorenzo said, “We made note of that.”
To the earlier question, there is no question, “Those guys” can play at a differ- ent level, and Henry was the first we saw.
He was Michael Jordan, before Michael. After a great career at Western Caro- lina, he went to the old ABA (of the red, white, and blue ball). Only 5’10” Henry had dunked 18 points against Atlantic Christian one night in Cullowhee, NC. 42 points, of 60 total in the second half. Every school in the 10-member league featured Henry stories. Particularly his first time in “our” gyms. Here’s Atlantic Christian’s introduction to Henry.
Darden High School, the black high school in Wilson, had a player named Bernard Barnes. Bernard, the same class as Henry, had played bitterly against Hen- ry’s High School team in the black school playoffs.
We’d heard rumors of Henry’s ability. He was filling gyms all around the league. I, like others, watched as the Western Carolina team broke out of the dressing room and onto the Wilson Recreation Center for layups. Heretofore only whites appeared at the Rec. Certainly no black fans. In layups I noticed there were actually two black kids. One was 6’4”, well built, very energetic, and a nice look- ing kid. He dunked with ease, and hustled everywhere he went. The other kid was well built but much shorter. And he looked like he was bored, even disoriented. He walked through the layup line, casually flipped it underhanded at the goal, and wandered to the back of the line. He surveyed the crowd with eyes whose eyelids drooped heavily downward.
About the time I’d decided the first kid didn’t look all that great and we might be able to handle this new found phenom, in walked about fifty black kids from Henry’s rival Darden High School. I don’t remember seeing Bernard Barnes. Joe Robinson and I had made a point of watching the black high school games at Darden, often the only white people there.
At any rate, this group was making their maiden voyage across the tracks to the “white folks gym”. They stared with uncertainty, at the west entrance to the gym.
When the short, black, new-found Western Carolina “Catamount” saw them enter, he changed looks.
He called for the ball at the shooting end of the layup line. Simply walked to dead below the goal, and exploded. Off a two-footed straight up leap, he immedi- ately set the vertical leap record for Wilson Recreation by about two feet.
As he descended toward the rim he dunked the ball so hard it seemed it may go through the hardwood floor. Whereupon Logan, in a two-footed attack stance, stared at Bernard’s Darden group as if to say, “yeah, we’re really here and really ready.”
In a few years black players were like kudzu, everywhere in the South. Dwight Durante of Catawba College (and later the Harlem Globetrotters), Gene Littles, High Point College, M. L. Carr, Lloyd “world be” Free of NAIA champs from Guilford College, “Diffy” Ross at Elon College, and Atlantic Christian’s own Clif- ton Earl Black and Jimmy Jones, of Conetoe, NC (pronounce co-neeta, not Cone- toe!)
In Barton College, our Century College historian Dr. Jerry McLean, kindly acknowledges that I helped Ira Norfolk – Jack McComas’s successor as basketball coach – recruit Cliff Black and Jimmy Jones. Norfolk was the head coach, but I did help persuade Black and Jones to be our firsts. And they were great recruits. Black set almost every record we had for scoring. He was truly remarkable, and handled the considerable rough spots with grace.

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