UGA basketball barrier-breaker Ronnie Hogue dies

ATHENS – Ronnie Hogue, Georgia’s first Black recipient of a basketball scholarship and one of the school’s greatest scorers, died Friday. He was 69.

Hogue is best known for shooting 20-of-23 from the floor and scoring 46 points in a win over LSU in 1973. That remains a Georgia scoring record at Stegeman Coliseum and is the most by a Georgia player at any venue since 1918.

But breaking UGA basketball’s color barrier at a time of great unrest across the country was Hogue’s greatest accomplishment.

Hogue reflected on that distinction when he returned to UGA to be recognized for his accomplishments in 2011.

“When I boarded the plane today, I thought about how apprehensive I was during my first flight down to UGA,” Hogue said. “It almost brought a tear to my eye because I remembered all the people, especially (coach) John Guthrie, who gave me advice and encouraged me to think positively.”

Hogue could not have arrived at UGA during a more tumultuous time.

“There were controversies here at UGA, and I participated in marches across campus,” Hogue said in a 2011 interview with GeorgiaDogs.com. “The first year I played, I can remember having spit balls and hot pennies thrown at me during games, but my teammates would huddle around to cover me up.”

Hogue said things “eventually mellowed out.”

“By the second year, after I proved I could play basketball, people were lining up to get my autograph,” Hogue said. “… The University of Georgia really exposed me to the reality of the civil-rights movement. Over the course of my time, people began to realize that it’s time to start changing. I saw the university, the faculty and student body mature through this time, and the blacks became more patient, and they were willing to sit down and talk.”

Said Dave Muia, team manager from 1970-74: “I have so much admiration for what Ronnie did It was great to have him back and to have our fans honor him. I know it meant a lot to him.”

Arriving at UGA three years before freshmen became eligible under NCAA rules, Hogue finished his Georgia career with 1,367 points. At the time, that figure ranked second among UGA’s all-time scoring leaders.

Today, Hogue ranks No. 18 among the Bulldogs' top scorers, but still ranks No. 6 in career scoring average at 17.8 points per game. Hogue is currently ranked No. 9 in field goals attempted (1,186) and No. 10 in field goals made (578) on Georgia’s career leaders ledgers.

Hogue averaged 19.1 points per game on UGA’s freshman squad. Playing out of position as a forward, he averaged 16.2 points per game and was named to the SEC’s All-Sophomore by the league’s coaches.

In 1972, Hogue as he upped his scoring average to 20.5 points per game, was named first-team All-SEC and earned the Joe Jordan Memorial Trophy as the team MVP. As a senior, Hogue averaged 16.5 points per game and was tabbed the team’s top defensive player.

Hogue was drafted and signed by the Washington Bullets in 1973. He had lived in Maryland and worked in Washington, D.C. ever since.

Teammate Chip Vaughan was Hogue’s road roommate most of the time they were at UGA.

“We were all a part of one team, and we did things together,” Vaughan told GeorgiaDogs.com. “We played a lot of cards and just had fun. It was eye-opening to see life from Ronnie’s perspective. I learned a lot from him along the way.”

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