April 29, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
Reggie Royals, who starred for the Florida State basketball team from 1971-73 and helped the Seminoles to the 1972 NCAA Tournament National Championship game, passed away April 16, 2009. Royals, who is the 15th all-time leading scorer and the second all-time leading rebounder in school history, played during an era of tremendous success for the basketball team. During his career the Seminoles played for the national championship, averaged nearly 21 wins per season, were ranked as high as seventh in the Associated Press poll and defeated five ranked teams including No. 2 Kentucky in the semifinals of the 1972 NCAA Tournament.
Royals was well ahead of his time on the basketball court as one of the rare 6’10” perimeter players, which have now become the norm in modern basketball. Nicknamed “Tree”, Royals helped Florida State make their deepest run in the NCAA tournament in the history of the program. He helped the Seminoles to a 27-6 record (the school record for victories in a season) and led the team in rebounding en route to the championship game against UCLA.
Royals began his career success at Central High School in his hometown of Whiteville, NC. He led Central to a pair of state championships as a sophomore and junior that included a 68 game winning streak. He played his senior season at Whiteville High and averaged 32 points and 20 rebounds and won a state championship there as well.
Royals’ height was the most intriguing aspect of his game — not because he was particularly tall for his time, but because he was a perimeter player. By the time he graduated from Florida State, Royals grew to be 6’10”, with a crossover dribble and a long-range shot. He was drafted in the fifth round by both the New York Nets (ABA) and the Philadelphia 76ers (NBA).
Royals was buried in Whiteville and six of his former Seminole teammates, including Ron King, served as pallbearers at his funeral.