Men's Basketball
    USC Men's Basketball All-American John Rudometkin Dies

    John Rudometkin
    Aug. 5, 2015

    John Rudometkin, a record-setting two-time All-American center in the early 1960s who is regarded among USC’s greatest men’s basketball players, died on Tuesday (Aug. 4) in Newcastle, Calif., of chronic lung disease that was the lingering effect of the cancer he overcame in his 20s. He was 75.

    A memorial service will be held on Aug. 16 at 1 p.m. at Auburn Seventh-day Adventist Church, 12225 Rock Creek Rd., Auburn, Calif., 95602. In lieu of flowers, his family requests donations in Rudometkin’s name to World Vision (

    Known as the “Reckless Russian,” Rudometkin played bigger than his 6-6 height. An All-American first teamer in 1961 and 1962, he set USC career records in points (1,484; the mark stood for 23 years), scoring average (18.8) and rebounding (831). He still stands seventh on the school’s scoring chart and fourth on the rebounding list.

    He helped lead the Trojans to the 1961 conference title (that was the last time USC won an outright league crown). A 3-year letterman (1960-62), he topped USC in scoring all 3 seasons and was Troy’s team MVP each year. He twice posted 20-point, 20-rebound games at USC (versus Denver and Wyoming in 1961). He appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1962.

    Rudometkin was inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001 and his No. 44 USC jersey was retired in 2010.

    He went on to play 3 seasons in the NBA with the New York Knicks (1963-65) and San Francisco Warriors (1965).

    His basketball career was cut short by non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in his chest near his heart and lungs, but after a trying battle he overcame the disease. His inspirational ordeal led to a book, “Rudo The Reckless Russian,” based on a nickname given to him by USC’s broadcaster at the time, Chick Hearn.

    After basketball, Rudometkin became a real estate investor, a minister and a motivational speaker.

    He came to USC after playing at Allan Hancock Junior College in 1959. He prepped at Santa Maria (Calif.) High.



    He is survived by his wife of nearly 54 years, Carolyn, along with 3 sons, Ron, JD and Nathan, and 4 grandsons.