Who is Cliff Hagan?
Our organization’s namesake and one of basketball’s most stand out players, Mr. Cliff O. Hagan was born on December 9, 1931, in Owensboro, KY. He is one of only a handful of basketball players in history to win a league championship in every level of the game. Cliff helped each of his teams achieve greatness at Owensboro High School, University of Kentucky, St. Louis Hawks in the NBA, and a gold medal in the Olympic games.
The combination of Cliff’s quickness, strength, and one of basketball’s most devastating hook shots led him to become an outstanding athlete. After high school graduation, he attended the University of Kentucky from 1950-1954 where he played for Hall of Fame coach Adolph Rupp. During Hagan’s collegiate career, he helped lead the Wildcats to an 86-5 record and a perfect record of 25-0 in 1954.Hagan averaged an astonishing 25 points and 13.5 rebounds per game including a single game record of 51 points against Temple which he held until 1970. He finished his college career with 1475 points, 1035 rebounds and an NCAA Championship in 1951. Later in life in 1978, Hagan would be the first ex-University of Kentucky player inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Upon graduation from Kentucky, Cliff was drafted by the Boston Celtics in the NBA draft. Before his NBA career could take off however, he served for two years in the military where he was stationed at Andrews Air Force Base. There he also won Worldwide Air Force basketball championships. On his return from military service, Hagan and Ed Macauley were traded by the Celtics to the St. Louis Hawks in exchange for Bill Russell. Cliff played all 10 of his NBA career seasons with the Hawks ending his 745 games played with 13,447 points and an average of 18.0 ppg. During his time with the Hawks he played in five consecutive NBA All Star games and helped lead them to five Western Division titles. Hagan would be described as a pure shooter and scored a staggering 26 points in the fourth quarter alone against the New York Knicks in 1958. Also in 1958, Hagan would help lead his team to the NBA championship where the Hawks defeated the Celtics in a 4-2 series final.
In 1967 Cliff was hired by the Dallas Chaparrals to be a player-coach in the ABA. Here Cliff played 94 games before transitioning to a coaching position. He ended his 13 professional basketball career in the NBA and ABA seasons with a total of 14,870 career points. Cliff would become the first player in basketball history to play in both the NBA and ABA All Star games.
During Hagan’s basketball career he would collect many accolades, championships, and records throughout his life, but one of the best achievements would be the marriage between himself and his wife, Martha Hagan. Martha has been a strong supporter and rock to Cliff throughout his life. The Hagans are now retired but do return to their hometown of Owensboro, KY.
- KHSAA Champion
- All State- Owensboro High School
- 2x Consensus first-team All-American at the University of Kentucky
- 2x First Team All-Southeastern Conference
- NCAA Champion
- 2x All-NBA Second Team
- 5x NBA All Star
- NBA Champion
- ABA All Star
- Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee
- National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame inductee
- UK Athletics Hall of Fame member
- Missouri Sports Hall of Fame inductee
- National High School Sports Hall of Fame member
- St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame inductee
- University of Kentucky Athletic Director
- Senior Olympic Team
- Jersey retirement at Rupp Arena
- Ranked 3rd All Time career rebounds at UK
- Ranked 2nd All Time season rebounds at UK
From the Rafters of Rupp
Check out Cliff’s interview here with Mr. Kyle Macy. In this episode, Cliff discusses the following topics:
- Basketball career from Owensboro High School to the University of Kentucky and his championships
- What it was like playing for Coach Adolph Rupp
- His commitment to the Air Force
- His NBA career
- His legacies including what he’s proud to have built and left behind in his life for future generations