OXFORD, Miss. (Ole Miss Athletics) – Johnny Neumann, an Ole Miss Rebel remembered as one of the most exciting players in college basketball history, passed away Tuesday night (April 23, 2019) at the age of 68 following a lengthy illness.
“We lost one of the all-time greats in Ole Miss history in Johnny Neumann,” men’s basketball head coach Kermit Davis said. “Johnny had one of the most prolific scoring seasons in college basketball during the 1970-71 season. Our thoughts and prayers are with Johnny and his family. Thanks for the great memories!”
A 6-foot-6 prodigy from Memphis often compared to LSU superstar Pete Maravich, Neumann electrified crowds in Oxford and across the Southeast in his one season with the Rebels and left his marks in the record books that might never be touched. Neumann led the nation in scoring as a sophomore at 40.1 points per game and was named to several 1971 All-America squads. He still has the three highest-scoring games by a Rebel in school history, including a pair of 60-point games. In a memorable battle against LSU, Neumann’s 63 points propelled the Rebels to a 113-90 victory over the Tigers. The 1971 SEC Player of the Year, Neumann holds the Ole Miss single-season scoring record with 923 points.
Off the court, he received Academic All-America and Academic All-SEC accolades. He left Ole Miss after the 1971 season to play for the ABA Memphis Tams. His professional career also included stints in Indiana, Los Angeles and Utah. He played and coached overseas, including serving as a head coach in China, Greece, Israel and Japan.
Neumann’s journey was covered in ESPN Films’ SEC Storied series, “The Rebel,” which premiered in May 2017. The documentary looks back on those days when Neumann took over the Memphis basketball scene playing for Overton High before moving on to Ole Miss. The film also reveals an older and wiser man who returned to Oxford in 2013 to begin working on the college degree he once spurned.
In 2016, 45 years after he first stepped onto campus, a 65-year old Neumann walked across the stage at the Manning Center during Commencement activities to celebrate earning his bachelor’s degree in general studies with minors in journalism, recreation administration and legal studies. The same year, he was honored as an SEC Basketball Legend at the conference tournament.
Neumann was preceded in death by his parents, Robert Herman Neumann Sr., and Margaret Marie Neumann. He is survived by his wife Liliana Neumann of Oxford, Mississippi, and his daughter Esmeralda, also of Oxford; daughter Maria and son Michael of Greece; daughter Leslie and son Samuel of Belgium; one grandson Illies of Belgium. He is also survived by brothers Robert Herman Neumann, Jr., (Maria) of Syosset, New York, and William Frederick Neumann (Paulina) of Goodyear, Arizona; a sister Brenda Neumann Wheeler (Billy) of Memphis, Tennessee.
Funeral arrangements are still being made and will be included here once they become finalized.