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W&L Basketball Star Jay Handlan '52 Dies

John Bernard “Jay” Handlan ’52, one of the most prolific scorers in the history of Washington and Lee basketball, died on Jan. 10 in Ormond Beach, Fla. He was 84.

A 1990 inductee to the W&L Athletic Hall of Fame, Jay finished in the Top 16 in the nation in scoring all four of his seasons and completed his career with 2,002 career points, just the third player in NCAA history to eclipse 2,000 career points. His point total ranks second of all time at W&L.

Jay has been in the NCAA Record Book since a February night in 1951, when he took 71 field-goal attempts in Doremus Gymnasium during the Generals’ 97-82 win over Furman. He scored 66 points in that game, which is still a single-game record at W&L.

Jay’s 71 attempts remain as the Division I record (and the oldest NCAA basketball record, too), since there were not three NCAA divisions at the time. Bevo Francis, of Rio Grande College, holds the Division II record with the same number of attempts as Handlan — 71. That was in 1954. And earlier this season, Jack Taylor, of Grinnell, set the Division III record (and the all-divisions record) when he had 108 attempts (71 three-pointers) on his way to 138 points.

In a 1985 article, Sports Illustrated wrote about Jay’s 71 attempts. He told SI back then: “We weren’t super formidable. I was the only scholarship player on the team. That night was sort of a planned situation. It was ‘Let’s see what I can get.’ To be honest, I was tired at the half.”

Jay set another NCAA record during his career in 1950, when he made 18 free throws without a miss against Virginia.

Following graduation, Jay was drafted by the NBA (Indianapolis) and the NFL (Cleveland), but he opted to play basketball in the National AAU League for the Goodyear Wingfoots, which he did for four years.

A private family viewing was held in Ormond Beach. A memorial service and burial will be held in Haddonfield, N.J., at a later date.

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