TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) _ Paul Sullivan, who became the first Alabama player drafted by the NBA in 1952, has died after a lengthy battle with cancer. Sullivan had turned 77 on May 9.
The Tuscaloosa native, known as ``Tall Paul'' because of his 6-foot-8 frame, was an All-Southeastern Conference center in 1951 and 1952 and was named to the All-SEC Tournament team in 1952 as well.
Sullivan was the first Alabama basketball player to score 400 points in a season and to reach 30 points in a game.
Sullivan led Alabama's 1951 and 1952 teams in scoring, rebounding and field goals. He averaged 18.2 points and 12.9 rebounds in 1952.
Alabama's basketball program honored Sullivan on Jan. 1 at the Crimson Tide's Oklahoma game where Sullivan was in his usual courtside seat.
``He was a great, great man,'' Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said. ``He was a great player, but more importantly he was a man of character. He loved the University of Alabama and, more specifically, our basketball team. He will be sorely missed.''
The New York Knicks drafted Sullivan in 1952, but he declined the Nicks' offer of about $5,000 to work for Ada Oil Company in Houston and begin a career in business.