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Rutgers Basketball Legend Phil Sellers’ Cause of Death at 69


Brooklyn native and Rutgers basketball legend Phil Sellers’ cause of death was revealed after his death on September 20, 2023.

He had suffered a stroke this month a family spokesman said. Sellers had dealt with a series of medical issues this year.

Phillip Sellers Jr. was born on November 20, 1953, in New York City, New York, U.S. He led the 1975-76 Rutgers squad to an undefeated season and a trip to the Final Four.

Rutgers Basketball Legend Phil Sellers' Cause of Death at 69

That team lost to Michigan in a national semifinal and finished 31-2 and remains the gold standard for Scarlet Knights basketball.

Sellers holds the school record for career points (2,399) and rebounds (1,115) during his four years at Rutgers.

The dominant forward was selected as a consensus All-American pick in 1976.

Steve Hefele, who played two seasons with Sellers at Rutgers, said: “On the court, he was just an intimidating presence. He was the guy that other teams geared up for.”

During his freshman season in Piscataway, in 1972-73, he averaged 19.5 points per game. Phil was recruited by then-assistant coach Dick Vitale.

He had committed to Notre Dame before he was convinced to stay closer to home.

The talented Sellers helped lead the Scarlet Knights to NIT appearances in 1973 and 1974 and an NCAA appearance in 1975.

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Stroke was reported as Phil Sellers’ Cause of Death

Stroke was reported as Phil Sellers’ cause of death at the age of 69. Rutgers said Wednesday that Sellers died Tuesday night but did not provide details.

Rutgers played at Syracuse in a hostile Manley Field House on February 6, 1975.

“They had something called a dog pound and I don’t think they had lost in a long time there. We were beating them and the crowd was just relentless from the game warm-ups to right to the very end.

Rutgers Basketball Legend Phil Sellers' Cause of Death at 69

“He was the kind of guy the crowd would get on and he just thrived off things like that,” Hefele recalled.

Hefele added: “It would just motivate him and his confidence would carry over to the rest of the squad. Where some people might get intimidated, he just thrived on it and it made him play better. He was a man amongst boys in college.”

Current Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell said in a statement: “Phil Sellers is Rutgers royalty. He is the greatest player on the greatest team in our program’s history.”

Pikiell continued: “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 retired from basketball after briefly playing overseas in the Netherlands.

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