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Former Charlotte Hornets coach, High Point basketball legend Gene Littles dies at age 78

Prior to becoming an NBA coach, Gene had a storied basketball career in the Carolinas, finishing as High Point University’s all-time leading scorer.
Former Charlotte Hornets coach and High Point University basketball legend Gene Littles has...
Former Charlotte Hornets coach and High Point University basketball legend Gene Littles has died at age 78.(High Point University Athletics)
Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 8:38 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV/AP) - Former Charlotte Hornets coach and High Point University basketball legend Gene Littles has died at age 78.

Littles, who died on Sept. 9, was the all-time leading scorer in High Point men’s basketball history. He was a three-time NAIA All-American between 1965 and 1969. He also leads High Point’s program in field goals and free throws made.

“We are saddened by the passing of another legend of our High Point University Athletic family in Gene Littles’, Coach Smith said. “Gene was the best player in High Point University Basketball history. He was a true gentleman, a great competitor, and a classy individual. He was a role model for me and many other collegiate and professional athletes. Gene was a proud ambassador for our alma mater and he represented the values of High Point University throughout his career. We will always remember Gene and honor his legacy. Our sincerest condolences and best wishes to his family, friends, and loved ones.”

Littles played in the American Basketball Association before turning to coaching, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers as an interim coach before going to the Hornets.

The Charlotte Hornets released the following statement today:

“The Charlotte Hornets are deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Gene Littles. Gene played an important role in the history of the Hornets and basketball in North Carolina. He served as an assistant coach during the team’s inaugural 1988-89 season, before being named the second head coach in Hornets history on January 31, 1990. Prior to becoming an NBA coach, Gene had a storied basketball career in the Carolinas, finishing as High Point University’s all-time leading scorer, playing five seasons professionally with the Carolina Cougars of the ABA and leading North Carolina A&T to a pair of MEAC Championships as head coach. Our thoughts are with Gene’s family and friends during this time.”

Copyright 2021 WBTV. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.