The greatest college basketball player you never heard of

By Dave Harris - Special to OVP

Charlie Slack, a 1948 graduate of Pomeroy High School, and a member of the Marshall University’s Athletic Hall of Fame passed away last Friday in Akron at the age of 89. Slack could be considered “The greatest college basketball player you never heard of”.

Slack still holds the NCAA Division I record for the highest single season rebounding average grabbing 25.6 rebounds a game over a 21 game season in 1954-55. Slack is still ranked third in NCAA history with 1,916 rebounds trailing only Tom Gola and Joe Holup. He has the second highest total in NCAA history for a game with 43 against Charleston on January 12, 1954, trailing only Bill Chambers who grabbed 51 caroms in a game.

Slack, out of high school served four years in the Air Force during the Korean conflict. After leaving the Air Force he went to play football at Marshall, coached by Pete Pederson. After being injured during the fall of 1952, legendary Marshall basketball coach Cam Henderson suggested the 6-foot-5 Slack give basketball a try, and a star was born. His rebounding totals in each of the four seasons he played are the four best in the schools history.

In the Marshall University record books for top rebounding, Slack holds 36 of the top 44 spots, including 13 with more then 30 rebounds a game. His career high was 43 against Morris Harvey in 1954. On February 12, 1955, Slack posted video game statistics as he scored 30 points, and pulled down 30 rebounds against Toledo. Slack averaged 21.8 rebounds a game and averaged 17.6 points a game over his Marshall career, he was a two time All-MAC selection. Teammates on those dominate Marshall teams included NBA great Hal Greer and former Middleport star Bob Ashley.

Slack was selected by the Fort Wayne Pistons (now the Detroit Pistons) with the 22nd overall selection off the 1956 draft, but instead went to work for Goodyear in Akron. He played on the Goodyear Akron Wingfoots in the National Industrial Basketball League for several seasons, and helped them to the 1964 AAU National Championships. He was an AAU All-American in 1960, and was selected to the all-star team numerous times. In one game for the Wingfoots he scored 42 points and grabbed 35 rebounds.

Slack was also an alternate to the 1960 Olympic Basketball Team. Slack was enshrined in the West Virginia Hall of Fame in 1980, the Marshall Hall of Fame in 1985, Marshall retired his number 17 in 2000, and the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019.

Slack is survived by his wife, two sons and three grandchildren, along with a cousin, Ken McCullough of Pomeroy.

Slack was the second sports legend from Meigs to pass away last week. On Thursday, July 2nd, Middleport native John Tannehill passed away. Tannehill is a member of the US Table Tennis Hall of Fame, and was the ranked as the No. 2 table tennis player in the U.S. during his career.

© 2020 Ohio Valley Publishing, all rights reserved.

By Dave Harris

Special to OVP

Dave Harris is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing.

Dave Harris is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing.