Rutgers basketball legend Phil Sellers dead at 69

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Brooklyn native and Rutgers basketball legend Phil “The Thrill” Sellers died on Wednesday, the university announced.

He was 69 years old. 

Sellers had suffered a stroke this month a family spokesman told

Sellers also had dealt with a series of medical issues this year, according to the outlet. 

The dominant forward led the 1975-76 Rutgers squad to an undefeated season and a trip to the Final Four.

That team, which lost to Michigan in a national semifinal, finished 31-2 and remains the gold standard for Scarlet Knights basketball. 

Sellers still holds the school record for career points (2,399) and rebounds (1,115) during his four years at Rutgers.

He was selected as a consensus All-American pick in 1976. 

“On the court, he was just an intimidating presence,” Steve Hefele, who played two seasons with Sellers at Rutgers, including the 1975-76 season, told The Post. “He was the guy that other teams geared up for.” 

During his freshman season in Piscataway, in 1972-73, Sellers averaged 19.5 points per game.

Sellers was recruited by then-assistant coach Dick Vitale.

Rutgers All-America forward Phil Sellers, right, gets a hug from teammate Jeff Kleinbaum after they beat Virginia Military Institute 91-75 in the NCAA East Regional championship basketball game in Greensboro, N.C., March 20, 1976.

The talented Sellers had originally committed to Notre Dame before he was convinced to stay closer to home. 

Sellers also helped lead the Scarlet Knights to NIT appearances in 1973 and 1974 and an NCAA appearance in 1975. 

A game during the 1974-75 season has stood the test of time for Hefele as the best example of the type of player Sellers was.

Sellers suffered a stroke this month.

Rutgers played at Syracuse in a hostile Manley Field House on Feb. 6, 1975. 

“They had something called a dog pound and I don’t think they had lost in a long time there,” Hefele recalled. “We were beating them and the crowd was just relentless from the game warm-ups to right to the very end. He was the kind of guy the crowd would get on and he just thrived off things like that. 

“It would just motivate him and his confidence would carry over to the rest of the squad. Where some people might get intimidated, he just thrived on it and it made him play better.” 

Hefele later added: “He was a man amongst boys in college.” 

Rutgers’ Phil Sellers tries to block a pass intended for St. John’s George Johnson (24), March 6, 1976, in the final period of the game at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Sellers’ No. 12 was retired in 1988. 

“Phil Sellers is Rutgers royalty. He is the greatest player on the greatest team in our program’s history,” current Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell said in a…

Read More: Rutgers basketball legend Phil Sellers dead at 69 2023-09-20 23:14:00

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