Lloyd Sharrar: Humble, team-oriented and a Golden Era favorite
SHEPHERDSTOWN – Although never the best player on any of the three West Virginia teams he played on, Lloyd Sharrar was always much-appreciated as a contributor to team morale, team unity and to the 72 wins in the 88 games he played in his three seasons with coach Fred Schaus and the Southern Conference-conquering Mountaineers.
Sharrar grew to be 6-foot-10 while at WVU, but he was a reed-thin 210 pounds. He was from Meadville, Pennsylvania in an era in Morgantown, when nearly all the major contributors to Mountaineer success hailed from the state of West Virginia.
There were only a scattered few players who were instant starters (Rod Hundley and Jerry West) from the time they became varsity-eligible as sophomores until their last games as three-year seniors, and Lloyd Sharrar was one of them.
Sharrar was a secondary light to Hundley in his first two seasons (1955-56 and 1956-57) and as a senior was a teammate of sophomore West, the team’s leading scorer. He was always the leading rebounder, averaging in double figures in all three of his seasons.
When Sharrar was playing, West Virginia won and won and won some more. All that winning made him a popular player with the state-wide fandom, who at times literally worshiped the Mountaineers from afar, because the on-campus Fieldhouse held only a heavily-perspiring 6,800, and reaching Morgantown from more than 100 miles away was a heady task in itself.
Much of the information about the team and the players came from the radio broadcasts of Jack Fleming or newspaper articles penned by Morgantown writers Mickey Furfari and Tony Constantine. Stubby Currence and Shorty Hardman gave readers their West Virginia slant in other cities in the state.
After coach Schaus said of Sharrar, “I’ve never had a player who worked harder,” the miners in the Southern coalfields, the high schoolers all across the state and any alumni paying attention immediately jumped into Sharrar’s corner.
West Virginia’s get-it-and-go, fast break offense relied heavily on Sharrar’s rebounding to get into motion. And when Schaus employed his fullcourt pressure defense it was Sharrar back as the last line of defense to keep opponents from getting layups.
Sharrar was not a king-sized shot blocker, but he wasn’t a statue either, fouling out 13 times in the 88 games he played.
With Hundley and West available, Sharrar never was a season-leader in scoring. He really didn’t shoot enough to be a mammoth scorer. In fact, as a senior in 1958, he attempted only 253 shots in 28 games or barely nine a game. His scoring average for his three seasons was 12.5 – less than his 13.4 rebounds per game he had. He totaled 1,101 points and 1,178 rebounds in his career. He averaged in double figures in rebounding in all three of his seasons, but only two of his years in scoring.
When West Virginia went 25-5 overall in the 1956-57 season, Sharrar was at his statistical best, scoring at a 16.1 points a game clip and rebounding at a crisp 14.8 rebounds rate. It was Hundley’s senior year and the other leading lights were Clayce Kishbaugh, Don Vincent, Bob Smith and Joedy Gardner.
In what was Sharrar’s junior year, West Virginia was 12-0 in the Southern Conference regular season, and then defeated Washington & Lee, 67-52, (after trailing 30-28 at halftime) in the conference tournament’s championship game. Sharrar had 16 points.
As a senior, Sharrar was a stabilizing figure in the team’s 26-2 record and the nation’s top ranking, going into the NCAA Tournament.
The Sharrar years never brought success in the NCAA Tournament where yearly losses to Dartmouth, Canisius and Manhattan ended seasons after the Southern Conference tournament championships qualified the Mountaineers for the “big tournament.”
Sharrar was an integral part of Mountaineer teams that shone so brightly during a too-short time, known as the “Golden Era of WVU basketball.”
Following his seasons, he was named an Associated Press second-team All-American in 1958, a United Press and NABC third-team All-American in 1958 and a two-time Southern Conference first-teamer in both 1957 and 1958.
After his career in Morgantown, Sharrar played in the Amateur Athletic Union league for the Wichita Vickers, Cleveland Pipers and Akron Wingfoots from 1958 through 1964.
His life ended in tragedy in 1984, when brain cancer claimed him at age 47, while he was living in the Midwest.
Lloyd Sharrar was the tallest example of Golden Era basketball. And it was not only because of his 6-foot-10 stature, on-court contributions and the team’s many wins, but also because of his humble ways, work ethic and low-key and team-first personality, which drew the praises from his coach and teammates alike.