DES MOINES, Iowa – Drake University fans and alums are mourning the passing of Bulldog basketball legend Willie McCarter.

On those great Drake teams of the late 60s and early 70s, McCarter was the guy who put the ball in the basket.

“His deal was pulling up at the top of the key, taking a step back … BOOM,” said Randy Peterson, Drake University, Class of 1973.

He averaged 20 points a game in his three seasons as a starter. He led the Bulldogs to the NCAA Final Four in 1969 and was named a first-team All-American. McCarter and his team turned Drake basketball into the hottest ticket in the state.

“Let’s just say the game started at seven o’clock at Veterans Auditorium…we had to get to Veterans Auditorium, as students, by five o’clock,” said Peterson.

McCarter would go on to be drafted by the Lakers in the first round of the NBA draft.

He died Tuesday of natural causes. His teammate and lifelong friend, Dolph Pulliam, was there at McCarter’s bedside when he passed.