Reinis Lacis's Basketball Blog

The Handle Podcast – Willie Somerset: 09/11/17


By Reinis Lacis (@LamarMatic)

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How many athletes have turned to a career in another field right after an All-Star season at the age of 27? Willie Somerset has. The 1969 ABA All-Star-turned-pharmacist explored the biggest influences in his life, the fun times he had during a short stint with the Baltimore Bullets, how the ABA’s Dallas Mavericks managed to enjoy an otherwise difficult situation and the way an Eastern Basketball Association team operated (later known as the CBA).

Topics discussed in the podcast:

01:50 – Farrell Steelers coach Ed McCluskey running a program where education and discipline was a must, the Pennsylvanian high school winning two AAA crowns with Somerset;
06:15 – The legacy of the Duquesne University, the school recruiting African American athletes, him being involved in the recruitment of Norm Nixon;
12:15 – Being drafted in the MLB by the Pittsburgh Pirates, strongly considering an opportunity to play football at the University of Michigan, his ties with Pittsburgh;
15:55 – A city-to-city preseason exhibition tour with the Philadelphia 76ers as his most enjoyable time on the Baltimore Bullets;
19:30 – Getting experience in the Eastern Professional Basketball League due not being ready for the NBA, his connection with coach Paul Seymour;
21:25 – The ABA being geared up in 1967, joining the league, its competition with the NBA;
23:25 – The players of the Dallas Mavericks not caring all that much about the team’s problems or money, being happy that they can play basketball, the franchise introducing professional basketball to the city of Houston;
26:10 – Playing in the 1969 ABA All-Star Game, rooming with Doug Moe and staying up all night to talk basketball, getting to know guys like him, Larry Brown and Rick Barry;
30:10 – His father working in steel mills, being an influence on him about education and hard work in life, the inspiration of becoming a pharmacist, successes in his life like playing in the Little League World Series;
37:40 – Playing on the Scranton Miners and Apollos in the Eastern Basketball Association, it being a weekend league with guys working during the weeks, yet getting paid a couple of hundred dollars for each game;
39:50 – Others talking about his small stature during his playing days, yet never giving it too much thought.

The media related to the podcast:

“Duquesne and St. John’s in NIT Victories” from the Gettysburg Times:


“Somerset Gets 47 for New Mark” from the Beaver County Times:


Picture from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:


Notable snippets of the interview:

Subscribe on iTunes, on Stitcher, on the podcast’s RSS feed, on YouTube or follow me on Twitter to keep up with the podcast.

Thanks to Willie for joining the show and telling us more about the role models he’s had in his life!


2 comments on “The Handle Podcast – Willie Somerset: 09/11/17

  1. Jim Nole
    September 12, 2017

    Very cool someone took the time to interview Willie. What a great story–and growing up watching him made some great memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ReinisLacis
      September 12, 2017

      Thanks for the comment, Jim! Do you have any specific memories of Willie in action? Where did you get to see him play?

      Your comment also made me realize that I should have included some more specifics of his playing style. Will add some newspaper clippings to the show notes in a second… There were some things (as it happens always) that I never got to during our interview.


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This entry was posted on September 11, 2017 by in The Handle Podcast, Vintage NBA and tagged .
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