Retire UR Men's Basketball Pioneer Aron Stewart's No. 30
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When Aron Stewart first put on his No. 30 uniform for the University of Richmond’s Men’s Basketball team during the 1972-73 season, he was only the second African-American to attend UR on a basketball scholarship in the program’s 60-year history. A junior transfer from Temple University, Stewart played basketball for two years at Essex County College in New Jersey, where he led all junior college players in the country in scoring with a 36.6 average.
Aron Stewart had a stellar career at UR. He averaged 30.2 points as a junior in 1972-73 and was named Southern Conference Player of the Year. In 1973-74 he led the Spiders to a 16-12 record, their first winning season since 1957-58. They finished second in the Southern Conference for the first time since 1945. His career averages of 28.1 points per game and 12.0 rebounds per game are still school records.
“Aron Stewart Day” was held at the Robins Center on February 23, 1974 at the UR vs. William & Mary game. During the special ceremony, a mayoral proclamation was made, making it “Aron Stewart Day” in the City of Richmond. Additionally, a letter was read from the Governor’s office. The president of the university, Bruce Heilman, presented Aron Stewart with an impressive trophy. Lastly, the legendary Malcolm “Mac” Pitt, who coached the Spiders from 1933-1952, addressed the crowd and “eloquently told one and all that No. 30 would never be worn by another Spider basketball player.” (Richmond Times Dispatch, February 24, 1974)
Aron Stewart was inducted into the University of Richmond Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010, an inexplicable 36 years after breaking records at UR. The university’s website summarizes Stewart’s accomplishments as follows:
In just two seasons, Aron Stewart etched his name in the men's basketball record book by averaging 28.1 points per game, tops in school history. His 30.2 ppg in 1972-73 is second- best in school history, and his 26.5 ppg in 1973-74 is the third-best mark. He totaled 1,237 points in only 44 career games, 19th on UR's all-time list. Stewart was named to the Citizen Helms Foundation All-America Team and the All- Southern Conference First Team in 1973 and 1974. He was Southern Conference Player of the Year in 1973 and earned Southern Conference All-Tournament Team honors in 1974. His greatest single-game scoring performance came against Appalachian State in 1973 when he poured in 42 points, the fifth-most by a Spider in a single game. Stewart owns four of the top 10 single-game field goals made records and his 663 points in 1973-74 is the fourth-highest single-season total at Richmond. He grabbed 12 rebounds per game in 1973-74, the Spiders' fifth-highest season average.
In 2015 Aron Stewart made the Richmond Times Dispatch’s all-time starting five for UR Men’s Basketball. While Aron Stewart Day had all the makings of an official number retirement ceremony, including a proclamation by the university’s living legend that the number would never be worn again, an athletics department representative, Barry Barnum, stated in a 1999 interview with The Richmond Voice that “to his knowledge, the number has not been formally retired.” Unfortunately, the number 30 has been worn twice since Stewart left the university. It is long overdue for Aron Stewart’s number to be officially retired, and for his jersey to be raised in the rafters alongside fellow Spider great Johnny Newman, whose future at UR was paved by pioneers like Aron Stewart.
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