The first African-American player in Arizona basketball history — the late Hadie Redd — wore No 23 and he played starting in 1951. In his junior and senior seasons, culminating in 1955, Redd became known more for his basketball skills. He led the Wildcats in scoring and rebounding each year.
Redd, who passed away from a stroke in 2011, blazed the trail for other African-Americans to play at Arizona. Soon thereafter prolific scoring Ernie McCray played for the Wildcats.
Greg Hansen of The Arizona Daily Star wrote of Redd after the legendary basketball player passed away in 2011:
“On the day Hadie Redd died, his alma mater’s basketball team stayed at the fashionable DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Tulsa.
That was the day Derrick Williams became a national media star, scoring on an extraordinary three-point play to stun Texas in the NCAA tournament. By coincidence, Williams wore Redd’s old jersey number, 23.
If you drive a few blocks from the DoubleTree, a five-minute walk from the site of Williams’ heroics, you arrive at the historic Mayo Hotel, recently renovated to reflect its glory days of the 20th century.
John F. Kennedy stayed there. So did Babe Ruth and Charles Lindbergh.
Hadie Redd did not stay at the Mayo Hotel when the Arizona Wildcats played the Tulsa Golden Hurricane a few days after Christmas in 1954.
Black men were not allowed inside the elegant Mayo Hotel.”
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Arizona’s No. 23 players
Source: UA media relations
Tony Morales, F, 1946-48
Jack Voorhies, G/F, 1949-50
John Peterson, C, 1950-51
Charles Leftault, G, 1951-53
Haddie Redd, G, 1951-55
Larry Ewald, C, 1958-59
Dick Cunningham, G, 1959-60
Keith Frye, G, 1961-62
Jamies Foster, F, 1962-63
Ted Pickett, F, 1964-66
Gordon Lindstrom, F, 1966-68
Wayne Burke, F, 1958-59
Tom Lee, F, 1968-71
Bill Norris, G, 1971-72
Greg Lloyd, G, 1975-76
Tom Tolbert, C/F, 1986-88
Deron Johnson, F/G, 1989- 93
Michael Dickerson, F, 1994-98
Lamont Frazier, G, 1999-2001
Jesus Verdejo, G, 2004-06
Derrick Williams, F, 2009-11
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, F, 2013-
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More to note about No. 23:
— Williams became Sean Miller’s first Pac-10 Player of the Year in 2011 averaging 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds a game. Williams went to the free-throw line more than any Arizona player in history during the 2010-11 season. He holds the UA record for attempts (331) and conversions (247).
— Michael Dickerson, one of Arizona’s best pure shooters in history, wore the number well as part of Arizona’s NCAA championship team in 1996-97. As a senior in 1998, Dickerson had the most remarkable shooting performance in a half in his hometown of Seattle. He made all 11 of his field goal attempts in the second half at Washington on Feb. 5, 1998.
— Power forward Tom Tolbert wore the number, usually designated for guards or forwards, for Lute Olson’s first Final Four team in 1987-88. A junior college transfer, Tolbert was a scorer — he posted 954 points in only two seasons — and a tremendous free-throw shooter. To wit: Those points came with viable scoring options Sean Elliott, Anthony Cook, Craig McMillan and Steve Kerr on the floor.
Tolbert led the UA in free-throw shooting (81.2 percent) in its Final Four season. That’s not a misprint. Kerr made 82.4 percent but he attempted only 74 free throws in 38 games that season (averaging below the standard of two attempts per game at 1.94). The UA lists Tolbert (151 of 186) as having the best percentage.
— Arizona freshman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson carries on the tradition of wearing Michael Jordan’s number with the Wildcats. Hollis-Jefferson, perhaps talking tongue-in-cheek, told USA Today in April that he could beat Jordan in a game of one-on-one. Hollis-Jefferson predicted a score of 11-10.
“Well, it will come down to the last possession,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “He’ll take the ball and get me with the move, then I’ll recover and block it off the glass.
“He thinks it’s a foul, but it’s really not. So we shoot for it to settle the bad call he made and I’d make the do-or-die shot. I get the ball back and I give him a bucket with heavy defensive pressure. Ball game.”
Countdown to Tip-off Blogs:
— No. 24 in Arizona Wildcats history one for the statistical record books
— Steeeeeeeeve Kerrrrrrrr!!!!
— A look at the greatest takeaways from Arizona Wildcats’ Red-Blue Scrimmage
— A look at past, future today with Arizona Wildcats’ Red-Blue Scrimmage
— Arizona Wildcats’ Aaron Gordon vying to become third freshman to win Pac-12 player of year
— Ernie McCray did more than score for Arizona Wildcats
— Arizona Wildcats’ No. 31 not retired with Jason Terry’s name but should be
— No. 32 most storied jersey number in Arizona Wildcats history
— No. 33 in Arizona Wildcats history symbolic of hard work ethic, ideal role players
— Simon says: No. 34 special with two of Arizona Wildcats’ greatest wearing jersey number
— If Arizona Wildcats center Kaleb Tarczewski has field-goal percentage like Jud Buechler, UA will be fine
— Arizona Wildcats legend Sean Elliott scored career-high 36 points opposing Sean Miller
— Nick Johnson looks to improve perimeter shooting, limit turnovers
— Jordin Mayes hoping to return to shooting form earlier in Arizona Wildcats career
— 39 days and counting toward Arizona Wildcats’ season
— Joe Skaisgir best Arizona Wildcats basketball player you’ve never heard of
— Nick Johnson looks to improve FG percentage while Arizona Wildcats limit opponents
— Chris Mills, A.J. Bramlett reached Arizona Wildcats stardom via different paths, roles
— Jordan Hill climbed hill for notoriety while Ed Nymeyer lived up to hype with Arizona Wildcats
— Fantastic Four who wore No. 44: Jersey special for Arizona Wildcats program
— Two of Arizona Wildcats’ best centers — Sean Rooks and Channing Frye — donned No. 45
— Arizona Wildcats great Ernie McCray reminisces about his record-setting 46-point performance
— Arizona Wildcats star recruit should not be compared to Blake Griffin
— Arizona Wildcats coach Sean Miller on fast track to Pac-12 success
— Things you may not know about Arizona Wildcats point guard T.J. McConnell
— Arizona Wildcats will benefit from presence of Joseph Blair in practice
— Arizona Wildcats preparing for what could be memorable 2013-14 season