The 100 Moments of TSU
Athletics presented by Taco Bell® series continues by remembering a former
Tennessee State student-athlete who was drafted by a professional team four
Most TSU fans know about the famous three-peat of NAIA
Basketball National Championships that the Tigers earned from 1957-59. Coach
McClendon and Dick Barnett led the squad, becoming the first black team to win
However, one player that is sometimes forgotten is guard
Barnhill was the point guard on those successful squads and
assisted Barnett on many of his buckets. Barnhill was no slouch around the
basket either, tallying 1,253 points during his career as a Tiger.
Barnhill’s career point number ranks him 19th
all-time, which is quite impressive considering the hundreds of Tigers that
have played at TSU since the 62 years since he retired.
Barnhill’s ability around the bucket and the publicity of
the titles made professional teams take note of him.
In 1959, the NBA’s St. Louis Hawks took a chance on Barnhill
with their 11th round draft pick.
Barnhill played an average of 21 quality minutes per game
for the Hawks, and tallied 8.5 points per game.
A few years later, in 1966, the Chicago Bulls were set to
join the NBA. The Bulls liked what they saw from Barnhill and gained the rights
to draft the guard from Barnhill’s old team.
Barnhill never played a second for the Bulls, as the
Baltimore Bullets bought his rights from Chicago. Barnhill averaged eight
points per contest with the Bullets, causing him to get drafted by the NBA’s
newest team- the San Diego Rockets.
The following season, the Phoenix Suns joined the league and
guess who they drafted on their team? That’s right, Barnhill.
Barnhill averaged 13 points and four assists per game during
his NBA career.
Barnhill eventually ended his career with the Indiana Pacers
of the ABA in 1972, and was inducted into the Tennessee State Sports Hall of
Fame in 1983.
The 100 Moments of
TSU Athletics presented by Taco Bell® highlights some of the greatest moments
in honor of Tennessee State's centennial celebration. A new moment will be
released each weekday for a total of 100. These moments were chosen by the TSU
100 Moments committee, which consists of alums from various departments. TSU
has so many great moments, not all can be represented in these 100.
Sports Information Assistant Alex
Mitchell contributed to this article.