Len Chappell’s name rarely comes up in the discussion of the greatest basketball players in ACC history.
That’s probably because he was one of the league’s first great players.
The 6-foot-8, 240-pound center was voted the ACC’s Player of the Year in 1961 and ‘62 while leading the Deacons to their only Final Four appearance. In the process, he set school and conference records for scoring and rebounds that took decades to surpass.
Chappell’s legacy is being remembered upon news of his death Thursday. He was 77.
One of just 10 players in ACC history to win multiple Player of the Year awards, the Pennsylvania native was also named the conference’s Athlete of the Year in 1962.
That season, he became Wake Forest’s first consensus All-American while leading the Deacons to their second straight ACC tournament championship. Chappell and his teammates eventually advanced to the Final Four of the NCAA tournament, where they lost in the national semifinals to Ohio State, then beat UCLA in the third place game.
Chappell finished his college career with 2,165 points in just three varsity seasons, a mark that stood until Duke’s J.J. Redick finally beat it in 2006. He also set records by scoring 50 points in a game against Virginia and pulling down 1,213 career rebounds.
His scoring and rebounding totals still rank third on his school’s all-time list.
After his graduation from Wake Forest Chappell was drafted by the New York Knicks. He played nine seasons for eight teams, earning All-Star selection in 1964 and finishing with 5,621 career points. He also played one season in the old ABA.
. In 2002, Chappell was named to the ACC 50th Anniversary men’s basketball team, honoring him as one of the 50 greatest players in league history.