River Rouge Star Wilburn Remembered

October 19, 2016

By John Johnson
MHSAA Communications Director 

One of the captains from the legendary boys basketball teams of the early 1960s at River Rouge passed away earlier this month.

Ken Wilburn, 72, a forward on the 1961 and 1962 teams that were part of a since-unequaled streak in Michigan high school basketball – five consecutive MHSAA championships – accomplished what was thought to be the first triple-double in Finals history in the 1962 Class B championship game against East Grand Rapids.

Wilburn scored 26 points – 13 in the third period – to go with 15 rebounds and 11 steals in a 69-39 win, a game Coach Lofton Greene said “was his best ever.”

Wilburn would go on to lead Central State University (Ohio) to a 30-0 record and the NAIA national championship in 1965, when he was named the title game’s Most Valuable Player. He earned All-America honors and finished his career as the school’s scoring leader.

During a 13-year journeyman professional career, Wilburn played in the NBA, the ABA and in the Eastern Pennsylvania Basketball League/Eastern Basketball Association.  He played on three championship teams in the EPBL/EBA and was a league MVP on two occasions.

PHOTOS: (Top) Ken Wilburn (25) poses with his teammates after the 1962 Class B championship game victory. (Middle) Wilburn works to gather a loose ball from an East Grand Rapids player.