Legend Dedric Willoughby passes away at 49

AMES, Iowa – Dedric Willoughby, an Iowa State Hall-of-Famer and one of the greatest shooters in Cyclone men’s basketball history, died yesterday at the age of 49.

A native of New Orleans, Willoughby was the linchpin on two of Iowa State’s most successful teams in 1995-96 and 1996-97, earning first team all-league honors and leading the team in scoring (20.5 ppg; 18.9 ppg) both seasons.

Willoughby played just two seasons at Iowa State. He began his career at New Orleans for future Cyclone head coach Tim Floyd, but when Floyd took the Iowa State job in 1994, Willoughby transferred to Iowa State prior to the 1995-96 season.

Iowa State was picked to finish last in the final season of the Big Eight Conference, but with Willoughby, and outstanding teammates Kelvin Cato, Kenny Pratt, Shawn Bankhead and Jacy Holloway, the Cyclones shocked the nation by finishing second in the Big Eight (9-5).

Willoughby was the Big Eight Newcomer of the Year and the catalyst in the school’s first-ever Big Eight Conference postseason tournament title in 1996.

In the final Big Eight Tournament championship game, Willoughby calmly sank two clutch free-throws in the final seconds to propel the Cyclones to victory over No. 5 Kansas, 56-55. He was named MVP of the tournament.

In Willoughby’s senior season (1996-97), the Cyclones rose as high as No. 4 in the AP poll and again placed near the top of the league standings, tying for third in the inaugural season of the Big 12 at 10-6.

Willoughby is remembered for his smooth jumpshot. He had a quick release and was extremely accurate, drilling 190 3-pointers at a near-40-percent clip during his career. Willoughby’s nine 3-pointers vs. No. 1 Kansas in Hilton Coliseum in 1997 stood as the school standard for many years.

He made 102 3-pointers in his senior season, a total which still ranks No. 1 on ISU’s single-season record chart.

Iowa State advanced to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament in Willoughby’s final season. In his last game as a Cyclone, Willoughby made eight 3-pointers and scored 34 points against UCLA, as the Cyclones lost on a last-second shot (74-73) to miss out on the opportunity to advance to the Elite Eight.

His 34 points vs. UCLA equals the most by a Cyclone in a NCAA Tournament game.

Willoughby was named a Second Team All-American by Basketball Times in 1997 and ended his career as the first player in Cyclone history to score over 1,000 points (1,186) in just two seasons.  

Willoughby played professionally for a number of years, making his NBA debut in 1999-2000 with the Chicago Bulls, reuniting with Floyd, who left Iowa State after the 1997-98 season to coach the Bulls. He averaged 7.6 points in his lone season in the NBA.

Willoughby was named to Iowa State’s All-Century men’s basketball team in 2008 and was inducted into the Iowa State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012.