Willard Leon "Willie" Sojourner (September 10, 1948 – October 20, 2005) was an American basketball player recruited to Weber State University by head coach Dick Motta. He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Sojourner's basketball career (1968–71) at Weber State included Big Sky Conference records in scoring and rebounding. He led the Wildcats to three Big Sky Conference regular-season titles. His career stats include 1,563 points and 1,143 rebounds. Sojourner still ranks second in rebounding and first in career rebounding average at 14.1 per game.
Sojourner was selected in the second round of the 1971 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls and by the Virginia Squires in the 1971 ABA Draft.
Sojourner went on to play in the American Basketball Association for the Virginia Squires and New York Nets. He was traded to the Nets along with Julius Erving and was the best man at Erving's wedding. Sojourner dubbed Erving with the nickname "Dr. J". Sojourner also played professionally in Italy.
Sojourner was killed in an automobile accident near Rieti, Italy, where he played professionally for six years. At the time of his death, he was serving as head coach of a club team in Rieti. At WSU he is considered one of the greatest basketball stars in school history. Nuova Sebastiani Rieti, the successor club to the Italian team where he had been a star, plays its home matches in an arena named in his memory, PalaSojourner,
By Dean Hanley
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