A basketball card of Kentucky-native Grady Wallace shows the superstar player in his prime, as wirey and talented roundball expert who led the nation in scoring in 1957 as a lettered member of the South Carolina Gamecocks. Wallace passed away Aug. 17.
BETSY LAYNE, Ky. – Local, state and national basketball legend Grady Wallace passed away Thursday, Aug. 17. He was 71.
Born in Mare Creek to Rufus and Sudie Smith Wallace, he was a graduate of the University of South Carolina where he was an All- American in 1957. During that year, Wallace led all scorers in the nation with an average of just over 31 points a game. This was enough to beat out Kansas’ Wilt Chamberlain, and solidify his place in USC and college basketball history.
When it came time during the 1960s for USC to retire a basketball jersey, administration and the athletic department looked first to Wallace, the old Kentucky boy, and hung his number 42 jersey from the rafters as its first choice. Wallace, who still holds the school record for career scoring average and the best mark for career rebound average, was inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame in 1968.
Upon hearing of his death, USC coach Dave Odom issued a statement that evening saying, “Grady’s passing leaves a tremendous void in Gamecock basketball history. The last couple of years I’ve had the chance to get to know him as a man, something I will always cherish. Grady will long be remembered by all his friends and the Gamecock faithful as a wonderful human being.”
During his tremendous 1956-1957 season when he captured the nation’s scoring title, Wallace enjoyed such highlights as scoring 54 points at Georgia on Dec. 21, 1956, which is the second highest single-game tally in the school’s history behind John Roche’s 56 points against Furman on Feb. 4, 1971.
Wallace is survived by his wife, Janet Wallace; daughter, Leigh Ann Wallace, of Columbia, S.C.; son- and daughter-in-law, Thomas S. and Marianne Wallace, of Columbia, S.C.; granddaughters, Sarah D. Wallace and Kate Marie Wallace; grandson, Matthew Grady Wallace; and sister- and brother-in-law, Anna Sue and Ed Stratton of Marysville, Calif.
Funeral services and burial took place in Columbia, S.C.