OSU Loses Pair Of Iba-Era Basketball Players
STILLWATER, Oklahoma - Two men who were instrumental for Mr. Iba at Oklahoma A&M College during its heyday have passed away. Don Johnson, an All-American for the Aggies in 1952, passed away Monday evening at the age of 83 (born Sept. 15, 1930). Weldon Kern, a member of OSU's two national championship teams in 1945 and '46, passed away Monday evening at the age of 90 (born April 30, 1923).
Johnson arrived at Oklahoma A&M College in the fall of 1948 and joined Mr. Iba's basketball squad as a sophomore in 1949. As a junior, he was a key member of the 1950-51 team that advanced to the Final Four, OAMC's fourth in seven seasons. During that season, he led the team with 12.1 points per game and was named first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference.
As a senior, Johnson averaged 14 points per game, leading the team in scoring for a second-consecutive season. He was named an All-American by the Helms Foundation, the only organization awarding All-America status at the time. Later that year, he was drafted by the Boston Celtics in the fifth round of the NBA draft.
Johnson was inducted into the OSU Athletics Hall of Honor in 2011. He, along with his family, gave the lead gift to Oklahoma State for the renovations of the men's and women's basketball locker rooms inside Gallagher-Iba Arena, which was named Gallagher Hall during his playing days.
Kern came to Oklahoma A&M from Lawton, Okla., in 1944 as a junior after spending his first two years at Cameron University. He served as the starting forward for the OAMC Aggies and averaged 9.8 points per game as a junior as a member of the National Championship team. The following season, the Aggies repeated as national champions when Kern averaged 8.2 ppg, second on the team only to three-time All-American Bob Kurland.
Kern was one of five Aggies who received first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference honors as a senior in 1946 as OAMC dominated the All-MVC squad with all five selections. He signed with the Oklahoma City Drillers of the Professional Basketball League of America, a short-lived predecessor to the National Basketball Association (NBA). He spent the past 35 years working in private business in Shawnee Mission, Kan., a suburb of Kansas City, Mo.