The future of the Minneapolis Lakers was in flux in the late 1950s, and coach John Kundla moved to his alma mater, Minnesota, to replace Ozzie Cowles as the Gophers coach for the 1959-60 season.
It was three more seasons before integration came to Gophers basketball, with the arrival in 1962 of Lou Hudson from Greensboro, N.C., Don Yates from Uniontown, Pa. (home of star quarterback Sandy Stephens), and Archie Clark from the U.S. Air Force.
Freshmen were not eligible for varsity competition, so it wasn’t until January 1964 that the trio — and particularly Hudson — would play a Big Ten game. It was against Purdue at Williams Arena.
“Lou hit his head on the backboard in the first half and cut open his scalp,” Kundla recalled years later. “I thought he was done. Then, he came out in the second half and won the game for us.”
Hudson scored 24 of his 36 points in the second half of a 97-93 victory. The gruesome cut also caused schools to start putting a rubber pad on the bottom of backboards.
Hudson moved like few 6-foot-5 players did in that era — going from a forward with the Gophers to “Sweet Lou,” a guard with a silky shot and a retired number for the Atlanta Hawks.
The Gophers were rated seventh in the country in 1964-65, but only conference champions (Michigan) went to the NCAA. The next year, Yates left school and Hudson broke his right hand early in the season. He kept playing, averaging 14 points while shooting with his off hand (left).
Lou Hudson was a pioneer for integration and for basketball gifts with the Gophers.
He died on April 11, 2014, at age 69 in Atlanta.