Former Rutgers star Phil Sellers, who led the program to its first and only Final Four appearance in 1976, died on Tuesday night, the school announced.
He was 69.
Sellers played at Rutgers for four seasons from 1972-1976. He scored 2,399 points and had 1,115 rebounds while with the Scarlet Knights, and is still the program’s leading scorer and rebounder. He helped lead the team on its only Final Four run during the 1975-76 season, too, though the Scarlet Knights were knocked out in the semifinals by Michigan.
Rest in Peace to the G.O.A.T. of Rutgers men’s basketball Phil Sellers. We send our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.
Sellers is the all-time leader in points scored and rebounds at RU and was the captain of the best team in Rutgers history in 1975-76 that… pic.twitter.com/ngL8TEr0Qm
— Rutgers Men’s Basketball 🏀 (@RutgersMBB) September 20, 2023
Sellers played under coach Richard Lloyd and Tom Young while at Rutgers, and recruited by former coach and current ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale — who was an assistant at the school at the time.
Breaks my heart to learn of the passing of @RutgersMBB ex SUPERSTAR. PHIL https://t.co/UMozG4g9q8 me he is the greatest STAR to ever wear a RUTGERS uniform.Have great memories in recruiting Phil when I was on the staff of Dick Lloyd .Along with Mike Dabney led Rutgers in mid…
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) September 20, 2023
“Phil was the catalyst in our great recruiting class that played a vital factor in Rutgers having fantastic success in the 1970s that led us all the way to the Final Four,” Vitale . “Once we were able to get Phil, we were able to get the best player in New Jersey Mike Dabney. Phil was such a fierce competitor, and he was dominant inside and outside. I am so sad to learn of his passing. To me, he is the greatest player in Rutgers hoops history.”
Sellers, a New York City area native, averaged 21 points and 9.8 rebounds over his four seasons with the Scarlet Knights. He averaged 19.2 points and 10.2 rebounds during his senior season, which was Rutgers’ final one as an independent school before it joined the Eastern Collegiate Basketball League. The Scarlet Knights went 31-2 that season, and finished ranked No. 4 in the country.
Sellers was then selected in the third round of the 1976 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons. He spent one year in the league in Detroit, where he averaged 4.5 points in 7.5 minutes per game.
“Phil Sellers is Rutgers royalty. He is the greatest player on the greatest team in our program’s history,” current Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell . “His jersey is one of three that hang up in the rafters at Jersey Mike’s Arena. He was the ultimate role model for our current Scarlet Knights. Rutgers men’s basketball sends our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones. We love you Phil ‘The Thrill’!”