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item4 Art Hillhouse

Sport: Baskeball

Born: June 12, 1916

Died: Ocotber 27, 1980

Town: Rutherford

Arthur Sherwood Hillhouse was born June 12, 1916 in Rutherford. A giant of a boy, Art grew to 6’7” while playing for the Rutherford High Bulldogs and was second-team All-Northern NJ in 1933 and 1934. He was recruited by coach Clair Bee at Long Island University in 1934.

Art played center for the Blackbirds, who were undefeated in his freshman and senior seasons and was a second-team All-American in 1939. In 1936, he was tasked with guarding Hank Luisetti when Stanford came east to play LIU in Madison Square Garden and was an early victim of Luisetti’s running one-hander. Julie Bender and Ben Kramer were the big offensive stars on the LIU squad, but Art was a great defender and rebounder in his three years as a starter, was solid from the free throw line and was a capable passer out of the pivot. He was considered one of the rare mobile big men of hs era.

After his final college game, Art immediately went into play pro ball. He played for teams in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New Jersey—including a year with Newark’s Canco Connonaders in 1939–40. After a year in the service during World War II, he played two seasons with the Philadelphia SPHAs of the American Basketball League. Art averaged 12.5 points per game to lead the SPHAs in 1945–46 and 14.0 in the playoffs as the SPHAs lost in the finals to the Baltimore Bullets. Art also tried to form his own independent club in 1945, the Elizabeth Braves, playing home games in the city’s armory. They played the all-black Harlem Rens in their opening game.

Following that performance, Art was signed by the Philadelphia Warriors of the newly formed Basketball Association of America. Art was the Warriors’ starting center as they captured the 1947 BAA title. During the best-of-five finals against the Chicago Stags, Art set a record that has yet to be broken, fouling out in every game of the series, which Philly won 3 games to 2. He was the hero of Game 2, however, scoring 7 of his team’s 10 fourth-quarter points in an 85–74 victory.

Art contemplated retiring on top, but played one more season in the BAA and finished his career playing minor-league ball in 1949. Art passed away in 1980 at the age of 64.


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