WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Wake Forest basketball legend Len Chappell, the school's first consensus All-American, has died at the age of 77. Chappell passed away Thursday, July 12.
A member of the Wake Forest Hall of Fame, Chappell led the Demon Deacons to two ACC Tournament Championships and the school’s only Final Four appearance in 1962. After college, Chappell played nine seasons in the NBA, including being the first Deacon selected to a NBA All-Star Game in 1964 as a member of the New York Knicks.
At 6-foot-8 and 240 pounds, Chappell played both power forward and center in his career and was one of the best players in Wake Forest and ACC history. After playing at Portage High School in Pennsylvania, Chappell attended Wake Forest, graduating in 1962. He was voted the ACC Men’s Basketball Player of the Year in 1961 and 1962 and the ACC Athlete of the Year in 1962. He was also a Consensus First-Team All-American in 1962, the first selection in school history. Chappell is one of only 10 players in ACC history who have been named ACC Player of the Year more than once. One of the pre-eminent scorers in conference history, he set the record for most points in an ACC game, 50 against Virginia. He led Wake Forest to two NCAA Tournament appearances, including a berth in the 1962 Final Four where they lost in the semifinals to Ohio State but defeated UCLA for third place. He is one of only three players in ACC history who have been MVP of the ACC Tournament twice, as he led the Deacs to ACC titles in 1961 and 1962. He played in the ACC Championship Game in all three of his varsity seasons. Chappell’s jersey number, 50, is retired by Wake Forest as he still ranks third in school history in career points (2,165) and career rebounds (1,213).
After his college career, he spent nine years (1962–1971) in the National Basketball Association as a member of the Syracuse Nationals/Philadelphia 76ers, New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, Cincinnati Royals, Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Atlanta Hawks. Chappell played in the 1964 NBA All-Star Game, and he scored 5,621 NBA career points. He also played one season (1971–1972) with the Dallas Chaparrals of the now defunct American Basketball Association.