Dean Church, the first  Ragin’ Cajun basketball player to earn All-American honors, passed away last nigh at the age of 74 due to an illness.

The two-time All-American starred for the Cajuns from 1960 to 1965, taking a year off in the middle of his eligibility because he got homesick. Church was from Kentucky, but upon going home, regretted leaving, and eventually returned to play out his eligibility for the Cajuns (then called USL), leading them to their first NAIA National Tournament in school history.

When all was said and done, Church finished at USL in '65 as the school's all-time leader in points (701), points per game (23.4),  free throw percentage (.832), field goal percentage (.570), field goals scored (237), most double-digit scoring games (30) and  most 30+ point games (8). His 1,546 points is 12th best in school history, while his 227 free throws made in a season is a school record. Church's 273 free throw attempts in a single-season is second most behind Elfrid Payton (302).

Current Louisiana head basketball coach Bob Marlin expressed his emotions upon hearing of Church's passing.


Church had his #12 jersey retired a little over two years ago during halftime of a UL game.

"It was the ultimate honor," the Louisiana Basketball Hall of Famer told the media following the ceremony.

He is one of only 4 players in Cajun basketball history with that distinction (Bo Lamar, Marvin Winkler, Andrew Toney).

Church is survived by his wife Sally, three children, and five grandchildren.