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Sellers, who led Rutgers’ Final 4 run, dies at 69

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Phil Sellers, who led Rutgers to the school’s only Final Four appearance and remains the Scarlet Knights’ career leader in points and rebounds, has died, the school announced. He was 69.

Rutgers said in a statement Wednesday that Sellers died Tuesday night but did not provide details.

Sellers scored 2,399 points and had 1,115 rebounds for the Scarlet Knights from 1972-76. He earned second-team All-America honors as a senior in 1975-76 for the team that reached the national semifinals.

The 6-foot-4 shooting guard played one season in the NBA, averaging 4.5 points for the Detroit Pistons in 1976-77.

“Phil Sellers is Rutgers royalty. He is the greatest player on the greatest team in our program’s history,” Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said in a statement. “His jersey is one of three that hang up in the rafters at Jersey Mike’s Arena. He was the ultimate role model for our current Scarlet Knights. Rutgers men’s basketball sends our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones. We love you Phil ‘The Thrill’!”

Sellers, a New York City native, arrived in Piscataway in 1972 after originally committing to Notre Dame. He was recruited by Dick Vitale, then a Scarlet Knights assistant coach. He averaged 19.5 points and 10.2 rebounds per game as a freshman, leading Rutgers to the NIT.

“Phil was the catalyst in our great recruiting class that played a vital factor in Rutgers having fantastic success in the 1970s that led us all the way to the Final Four,” Vitale said in a statement released by Rutgers. “Once we were able to get Phil, we were able to get the best player in New Jersey Mike Dabney. Phil was such a fierce competitor, and he was dominant inside and outside.”

Sellers led Rutgers to its first NCAA Tournament appearance as a junior in 1975. In his final season, the Scarlet Knights were undefeated before their loss in the Final Four to eventual national runner-up Michigan. Rutgers fell to UCLA in the third-place game to finish 31-2.

Sellers averaged 19.2 points and 10.2 rebounds that year.

“Phil was one of the reasons that I decided to go to Rutgers,” said Abdel Anderson, who was a freshman on the Final Four squad. “Phil was the best player I have ever played with.”

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