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Wayne Hightower, 62; NBA 1st-Round Pick Jumped to ABA

April 25, 2002|From Associated Press

Wayne Hightower, one of the highest profile players to jump from the NBA to the American Basketball Assn., has died. He was 62.

Hightower died of a heart attack at his home in West Philadelphia on April 18.

A thin, 6-foot-8 forward, Hightower was a first-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Warriors in 1962.

Hightower followed Wilt Chamberlain as the big man for Overbrook High School in Philadelphia, leading the school to consecutive city titles in 1957 and '58.

A tenacious rebounder, Hightower followed Chamberlain to the University of Kansas, where he averaged 21.3 points and 10.8 rebounds in two seasons (1960-61). He finished his college career with 1,128 points.

Hightower was selected fifth overall in the 1962 NBA draft by the Warriors, who moved to San Francisco before his first season. He averaged 13.2 points during the 1962-63 season.

Hightower was traded to the Baltimore Bullets during the 1964-65 season. After two seasons, he jumped to the Denver Rockets of the ABA, giving some credibility to the newly created league.

Hightower played five seasons in the ABA with Denver, Los Angeles, Utah, Texas and Carolina before retiring after the 1971-72 season.

Hightower is survived by a daughter, Paula; sons Wayne Jr. and Anthony; a sister; two brothers; and four grandchildren.

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