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Iowa legend Murray Wier dies at age 89

Basketball star was program's first consensus first-team All-American

Iowa forward Murray Wier in 1946. (The Gazette)
Iowa forward Murray Wier in 1946. (The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Murray Wier, Iowa’s first consensus first-team All-American basketball player, died Wednesday at his home in Georgetown, Texas. He was 89.

Wier starred for the Hawkeyes for four years, beginning as a freshman in 1945. He twice led the Hawkeyes in scoring and in 1948 was a consensus first-team All-American. Wier averaged a Big Ten-best 21.0 points a game and set a then-record of 272 points in conference action. He was named the Big Ten’s Most Valuable Player that year and guided the Hawkeyes to a second-place finish in league play.

Rules changes during World War II enabled Wier to play as a freshman in 1945. He averaged 7.8 points a game to lead Iowa to its first Big Ten championship by a game over Ohio State. The 17-1 Hawkeyes, whose only lose came by a single point, were considered the nation’s best team that year. Iowa voted down an NCAA tournament invitation because academic programs were accelerated with the war and two players could not participate.

Wier, a Grandview native and later a Muscatine standout, scored 15 points in his first game on Dec. 9, 1944. No men’s basketball player scored more points in a freshman debut until Nov. 11, 2011 when Aaron White put up 19 points.

In 1948, Wier was drafted by the Fort Wayne Pistons of the Basketball Association of America. He then played three seasons with the Tri-Cities Blackhawks, including one year for NBA legend Red Auerbach, Wier played one final year of professional basketball with the Waterloo Hawks.

Wier remains one of only two consensus first-team All-Americans in Iowa history. Chuck Darling (1952) is the other.

Wier is survived by his wife, Marge, and children Terry, Sandra, Marcia, Jeff, and Sally.

“Our deepest condolences go out to the Wier family,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “Murray was one of the all-time greats, blazing the trail for Iowa basketball. Murray won a Big Ten championship, and led the NCAA in scoring, and becoming the program’s first first-team All-American. He will be missed by everyone in the Iowa basketball family.”

l Comments: (319) 339-3169; scott.dochterman@thegazette.com

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