SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Santa Clara University and the men's basketball program lost one of their all-time greats with the passing of Ken Sears, a member of the 1952 Final Four team who twice earned West Coast Conference Player of the Year.
Sears is one of only four players in school history to earn first-team All-WCC honors in three straight seasons (1952-53 through 1954-55).
His 22.3 points-per-game average as a senior in 1954-55 is the second highest in school history. He averaged 14.6 points and 6.9 rebounds in 107 career games.
He ended his career as the all-time leading scorer (1,586) in school history and currently ranks 12th.
Sears, 83, who passed away Sunday in his hometown of Watsonville, California, helped lead the Broncos to the NCAA Tournament three times.
He was a freshman starter on the 1952 Final Four squad and the Broncos went on to reach the NCAAs in each of the next two seasons.
Sears, a 6-foot-9 forward, was a first-round pick (fourth overall) of the New York Knicks in the 1955 NBA Draft. He played six seasons (1955-61) for the Knicks and two (1962-64) with the San Francisco Warriors. He averaged 13.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game during his eight seasons, earning NBA All-Star status in 1959 and 1960. He also spent the 1961-62 season in the American Basketball League.
He became the first basketball player to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated when he appeared in the Dec. 20, 1954 issue.
Sears was inducted into the Santa Clara Athletics Hall of Fame and had his jersey retired on Jan. 27, 2008, one of just seven players to earn that distinction.
Dennis Awtrey (1968-79, 1969-70) and Steve Nash (1994-95, 1995-96) later joined Sears as the only Santa Clara players to twice earn WCC Player of the Year.
The other Broncos to earn first-team All-WCC three straight years are:
• Dennis Awtrey (1967-68, 1968-69, 1969-70)
• Harold Keeling (1982-83, 1983-84, 1984-85)
• Jared Brownridge (2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17)
There will be a celebration of Sears' life at 11 a.m. on May 20, at Twin Lakes Church (2701 Cabrillo College Drive, Aptos, CA 95003).
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