Hometown:  Lawrence, KS

CATEGORY   TOTAL   1930 1931 1932
YEAR     So. Jr. Sr.
Games Played/Started 51/   15/ 18/ 18/
Points 384   27 158 199
   Per Game 7.5   1.8 8.8 11.1
   Per Game          
FG: Attempts          
FT: Attempts          

1930:  Lettered, Starter

1931:  Lettered, Starter

1932:  Lettered, Starter, Conference Scoring Champ, All-Big 6, All-American


THEODORE “TED” O’LEARY  (Player 1930-32)

      -A renaissance man. A hero on and off the court.

At the time of his death in February, 2001, Ted O’Leary was one of the last links to basketball inventor James Naismith.  Naismith taught physical education at KU for almost 40 years and O’Leary was one of his students.  O’Leary played for Phog Allen, lettering all three years (1930-32).  He started all 51 games KU played then, with a career average of 7.5 ppg.  He came on strong his senior year, garnering All-American honors, and leading the Big Six in scoring with 11.1 ppg.  To put that in perspective, KU averaged 30 points per game that year, on their way to a 13-5 overall record and first in the league.  He was also the No. 1 player on KU’s tennis team and earned a Phi Beta Kappa key for academic excellence.

On February 27, 1932, the Jayhawks and Oklahoma were tied for the league lead heading into the season finale that evening at Hoch Auditorium.  Star center Bill Johnson wasn’t expected in the lineup, as his father’s funeral was set in Oklahoma City that afternoon.  Coach Allen used the story of this game as a motivational tool for many years thereafter.  The Jayhawks were trailing when (and Phog would put his hand cupping his ear, as if hearing the drone of the incoming plane carrying Johnson to the game), his arrival inspired the team to eventually win, capturing the conference crown.  In replaying the game, Phog never mentioned that Johnson had actually fouled out in the first half.  Actually, the real hero of the game was O’Leary, who scored a game-high 14 points.

Born in Oxford, England, O’Leary was a hometown boy from Lawrence and his father, R. D. O’Leary, was dean of the English department at KU.  Following graduation, he compiled a 26-9 record in two years as head basketball coach at George Washington University.  Declaring that “coaching wasn’t for me,” O’Leary returned to work as a reporter for the Kansas City Times, served as a midwest correspondent for Sports Illustrated, and reviewed books for the Kansas City Star.  He was also an accomplished handball player, winning over 20 regional titles, and was named to the National Handball Hall of Fame.

O’Leary was a co-author of “The Kansas Century: 100 Years of Championship Jayhawk Basketball”. In the 1940s and '50s, O'Leary edited a hobbyists' magazine and was considered such an authority in his field, he was asked to write the hobby segment for the World Book Encyclopedia.   He also was a longtime Midwest correspondent for Sports Illustrated. One of his most memorable stories was on Stan Musial's final trip around the National League before he retired in 1963.

Bill Mayer, Lawrence Journal-World contributing editor, was a longtime acquaintance of O’Leary.  “Ted was a sensational athlete – basketball, handball, tennis – and had on the fiercest competitive spirits you ever saw.  He refused to accept defeat,” Mayer said.  “But he was so much more that that.  Ted was an amazing intellectual with an incredible range of interests.”  Kansas University Athletic Director Bob Frederick called O’Leary “a wonderful gentleman and an important part of Kansas’ basketball history.  He lived 90 really productive years.  It was great to be around a person who knew James Naismith.  We will all miss him greatly.”

Sources (Books and Articles):

Several articles of Kansas historical interest appeared  in the Kansas City (Mo.) Times:

"The Kansas Century: 100 Years of Championship Jayhawk Basketball" by Ted O'Leary, Bill Mayer, Joe Posnanski, and Chuck Woodling