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Tom Thacker

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Tom Thacker

  • Tom Thacker

Birthdate: November 2, 1939 
Birthplace: Covington, Kentucky
High School: Holmes HS (Kentucky) (1959)
College: University of Cincinnati (1963)

Tom Thacker had the distinction of playing in three consecutive NCAA Division I basketball championship games.

As a member of the University of Cincinnati teams in 1961, '62 and '63, the 6-foot-2 swingman helped his team defeat Jerry Lucas-led Ohio State in the 1961 and 1962 title games, but watched Loyola of Chicago upset the Bearcats in 1963.

Thacker was a first team All-American in his senior year – 1963.

A native of Covington, Ky., Thacker played basketball at William Grant High School before graduating from Holmes High School. He averaged 31.7 points as a junior and 33.8 as a senior. 

In his sophomore year at UC, Thacker averaged 12.3 points as the Bearcats won the Missouri Valley Conference championship and defeated Ohio State, 70-65, in the NCAA title game. He averaged 11 points as a junior when Cincinnati defeated OSU again, 71-59.

Thacker boosted his scoring average to 15.8 points as a senior when UC won its third straight MVC crown but lost to Loyola in the NCAA final. 

Thacker was chosen in the first round (fifth overall) of the 1953 NBA Draft as a territorial pick by the Cincinnati Royals and spent three seasons with the team. On May 1, 1966 he was drafted by the Chicago Bulls in the NBA expansion draft, but he decided to retire and did not play that season.

On August 4, 1967, he returned to the NBA and was signed as a free agent by the Boston Celtics. It turned out to be a fortuitous trade for Thacker. Averaging about 12 minutes per game and 4.2 points and 2.5 rebounds per game, he earned a championship ring as the Celtics won the NBA title in a six-game finals series over the Los Angeles Lakers. He also posted a career single-game high of 17 points twice, on February 11, 1968 against the Lakers and again on March 7 against the Bulls.

After Thacker's fourth NBA season he was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA expansion draft but opted to play in the American Basketball Association for the Indiana Pacers. In 1968-69, playing just 18 games, he averaged 5.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game, all career personal bests. In 1969-70, he played 70 games, averaging 2.7 points per game and helped the Pacers win the ABA championship in six games over the Los Angeles Stars. In all, he played seven seasons of professional basketball.

 He is the only player to have played on an NCAA championship team, an ABA championship team, and an NBA championship team.

Thacker went on to earn a master's degree from the University of Cincinnati. He became the first African-American coach at the University of Cincinnati, leading the women's basketball program from 1974 to 1977. In 1986, he was inducted into the Northern Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame and, in 1989, into the Northern Kentucky Black Hall of Fame.

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