Basketball player

Julius Pegues, first black basketball player at Pitt, dies at 86

PITTSBURGH — Julius Pegues, the first black basketball player at the University of Pittsburgh, has died after being treated for cancer. He was 86 years old.

The school said Pegues died this week at the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The 6-foot-3 forward joined Pitt in 1954 and played a year on the freshman team before earning a scholarship and moving on to college. He averaged 13.6 points and 4.9 rebounds in 77 career games for the Panthers and helped them twice in the NCAA Tournament, including a 31-point performance in a first-round loss to Miami (Ohio) in 1958.

The St. Louis Hawks selected Pegues in the fourth round of the 1958 draft. He was unable to play due to a five-year commitment to the United States Air Force under the Reserve Officer Training Corps program.

Pegues had an undergraduate degree from Pitt in aerospace engineering and studied meteorology at St. Louis University. He served as an Air Force meteorologist and worked extensively in the airline industry, including a stint as an advisor for the Federal Aviation Administration.

“Julius was a trailblazer at the University of Pittsburgh and became an icon in the Tulsa community,” Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke said in a statement. “We are proud to recognize him as one of the outstanding people in Pitt Athletics history.”

Pegues is survived by his wife of 63 years, Wennette, their three children – Mary Pegues, Michael Pegues and Angela Guillory – and their families.