Former K-State basketball star dies at 72

MANHATTAN, Kan. Juan Pachin’ Vicens, a Latin American basketball star and former student-athlete at Kansas State, died at his home Sunday in Puerto Rico at the age of 72.


Vicens was released from the hospital on Wednesday to go home after about two months of treatment for cardiac arrhythmia, renal failure and water in his lungs, said his nephew Enrique Vicens.


Vicens, a point guard from Ponce, Puerto Rico, starred at K-State for two seasons from 1954-1956 under legendary head coach Tex Winter.  He was the team’s second-leading scorer in 1956, averaging 12.3 points, in guiding the Wildcats to the NCAA Regional semifinals and a first-place finish in the Big Seven.  For his career, he averaged 11.6 points and over three rebounds per game.


“Pachin was truly a great player here and continued to represent his country in great fashion,” said K-State legend and current director of development Ernie Barrett.


A two-time Olympian, Vicens played in the Summer Games in Rome in 1960 and in Tokyo in 1964. He also competed in two world championships and was named the best player of the worlds at the World Championship Tournament in Chile in 1959.


Vicens’ basketball career began in 1950 as a point guard for the Ponce Lions, who he led to seven national championships during his playing career. He then became the first U.S. territory player to ever score 5,000 points, which he did in 1966. He later won a gold medal in that same year in the Central America and Caribbean Games.


There is a statue of Vicens at the entrance of Ponce’s arena, which is named after him.


After retiring in 1966, Vicens was a manager at various Ponce banks.  More recently, he was a commentator for NBA games on Catholic Radio.


Vicens is survived by his sister, Yolanda, along with other relatives.