1953 team member Kraak passes away

Former Indiana University basketball player Charlie Kraak, a member of the Hoosiers’ 1953 national championship team, died on Sunday at the age of 81 in Summerfield, Fla.

Kraak averaged 6.9 points per game during his IU career and became the fourth Indiana player selected in the 1954 NBA Draft when he went in the sixth round to the Fort Wayne Pistons, joining teammates Bob “Slick” Leonard (second round), Dick Farley (second round) and Lou Scott (fifth round). The fifth IU starter from that era, Don Schlundt, went in the second round of the 1955 NBA Draft.

Most fondly remembered as a member of Branch McCracken’s 1953 title team, known as ‘The Hurryin’ Hoosiers,’ Kraak scored 17 points in IU’s 69-68 upset of Kansas in the championship game.

Kraak returned to Bloomington just over a year ago as that 1953 squad was honored on Nov. 15, 2012, and his name adorns the Hoosiers’ locker room.

Indiana coach Tom Crean tweeted about Kraak’s passing on Monday.

“We just learned that former player Col. Charlie Kraak passed away suddenly yesterday. Our locker room is named after him,” Crean tweeted. “His nephew and my friend, Jeff Jones, has always raved about Charlie. He had a very decorated and impactful life.”

Kraak, an Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame member from Collinsville, graduated from Indiana in 1954 with a degree in physical education, but later earned a degree in police administration and public safety from Michigan State before spending 30 years in the United States Army, including tours in Korea and Vietnam, and retired as a colonel at the age of 52.

According to his obituary at www.villages-news.com, visitation and a funeral service for Kraak will take place on Friday. He will then be buried with full military honors at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, Fla.