Former K-State Hoops Player Lew Hitch Passes Away

Lew Hitch played six seasons in the NBA from 1951-57.

Feb. 10, 2012

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Lew Hitch, a member of the 1951 NCAA runner-up team, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 82 at his home in Wamego, Kan.

A 6-foot-8, 205-pound center from Griggsville, Ill., Hitch played two years for Hall of Fame head coach Jack Gardner from 1949-51 after transferring from Culver-Stockton College.  He helped the Wildcats to consecutive Big Seven Conference titles and a 42-11 (.792) record during his two-year playing career.  He averaged 6.7 points on 36.8 percent shooting (134-of-364) during his 53-game career. 

As a senior, Hitch helped K-State to its first NCAA Final Four appearance and a spot in the 1951 NCAA Championship game, where the Wildcats lost top-ranked Kentucky, 68-58, at Williams Arena in Minneapolis, Minn., on March 27.  The squad, which also won the Big Seven Holiday Tournament and regular season titles, finished with the school's highest all-time final ranking of No. 3 in the United Press International (UPI) poll and No. 4 in The Associated Press' poll.  The Wildcats finished the season with a 25-4 overall record and 11-1 mark in Big Seven play.  An all-Big Seven selection, Hitch averaged 8.8 points per game in 29 games as a senior. 

Following his graduation from the university, Hitch played six seasons in the NBA from 1951-57 for the Minneapolis Lakers (1951-53, 1954-56), Milwaukee Bucks (1953-54) and Philadelphia 76ers (1956-57).  He scored 2,075 points and grabbed 2,183 rebounds in his 414 NBA career and won NBA titles with the Lakers in 1952 and 1953.

The memorial service is set for Sunday, Feb. 12 from 1-3 p.m. at the Celebration Building located at 706 4th Street in Wamego.  In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that memorial contributions be made to Westmoreland USD 323 and sent to the Stewart Funeral Home at 4370 Salzer Road and Highway 24 in Wamego.  Additional information or questions can be directed to the Stewart Funeral Home at (785) 456.2233.