Former Charlotte Hornets coach Gene Littles dies at 78

Hornets coach Gene Littles
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HIGH POINT, N.C. — Gene Littles, a former coach of the Charlotte Hornets who was the all-time leading scorer in High Point University men’s basketball history, has died. He was 78.

A news release from the school said Littles died on Sept. 9 but did not give a cause of death. Details of a memorial service will be released later, it said.

In 1986, Littles became an NBA assistant coach, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers for the last 19 games of the season. In 1990, Littles was named head coach of the Charlotte Hornets midway through the season and remained in that role for the following season. He was an assistant coach with the Denver Nuggets in 1994-95 and served as the interim head coach for the last 19 games of that season.

As a player, Littles was drafted by the Dallas Chaparrals of the ABA and the New York Knicks of the NBA. His ABA rights were acquired by the Carolina Cougars, with whom he earned a spot on the league’s all-rookie team as a starting point guard. He finished his career with the Kentucky Colonels, who beat the Indiana Pacers to win the 1975 ABA title.

Littles was a three-time NAIA All-American who in 1969 led High Point to a school-best 28-3 record and the quarterfinals of the NAIA Tournament. His No. 14 jersey number 14 was retired by the school.

Littles later joined the coaching staff at Appalachian State before moving to the head coaching job at North Carolina A&T, where he led the Aggies to two Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference titles. He was the MEAC coach of the year in 1979.

Littles is a member of both the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame and the High Point University Athletics Hall of Fame.