University of Kansas

Documentary on John McLendon, groundbreaking basketball coach, premiering at KU

John McLendon
John McLendon File photo

The premier showing of The Forgotten Coach — The John McLendon Story — will be Thursday at the University of Kansas.

The documentary of McLendon, who this year became the first person enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach and contributor, was directed by Kevin Willmott.

It was inspired by McLendon’s biography, “Breaking Through: John B. McLendon, Basketball Legend and Civil Rights Pioneer” by Milton Katz.

The film reviews the remarkable life of McLendon, the first black student at Kansas to earn a physical education degree and study under basketball inventor and KU professor, James Naismith.

McLendon went to become one of basketball’s greatest coaches, winning three NAIA championships at Tennessee State and breaking racial barriers along the way.

The premier will start at 7 p.m. in room 3140 of Wescoe Hall.

Blair Kerkhoff: 816-234-4730, @BlairKerkhoff