In Memoriam, 2003
by Jed Tai
As we say hello to 2004, we should also take this time to remember, reflect, and pay homage to those who left this earth in 2003.
A number of former coaches and players with ties to college basketball passed away in 2002, some of them even doing what they loved – coaching and playing hoops. This is our goodbye to those who are no doubt nearby that great basketball court in heaven.
(Note: If you know of anyone with a college basketball background that we might have missed, please let us know.)
John K. Adams, 57, October 21
Adams devoted much of his life and career to Division III athletics. He started out as a standout basketball player at Rowan University (then called Glassboro State) and moved on to the coaching ranks William Paterson, where he led the team for 11 seasons, reached eight NCAA Tournaments, won seven conference championships, and put together a record that stood fifth all-time in career winning percentage. Adams then moved up to athletic director at Rutgers-Newark, where he served as the athletic director until this year. He has been honored by both Rowan and William Paterson for his accomplishments.
Bob Allen, 83, April 3
The son of legendary coach Phog Allen, Bob Allen was a standout on the basketball floor as well. Playing for his father during the 1940’s, the younger Allen was twice an all-conference selection and played on the 1939-40 team that reached the NCAA Tournament finals. After graduation he had a successful career as a medical doctor in the Kansas City area, but never lost contact with the KU program, attending Jayhawks games for years.
Jed Beford, 21, December 14 (cardiac arrest)
Beford, captain of Columbus State’s basketball team, was a prolific three-point shooter who led NCAA Division II in three-point field goals made last season with 135. The 5-foot-11 guard started his college career at Gulf Coast Community College in Florida. During the 2003-04 season, he had been averaging 21.4 points through seven games.
Henry Beenders, 87, October 27
A native of the Netherlands, Beenders was Long Island’s team captain during the 1941-42 season. The center was also a member of LIU’s 1941 NIT title team. After college, he played with the Providence Steam Rollers and the Boston Celtics of the BAA, one of the forerunner leagues of the NBA. He was also a US war veteran, having served with the Army during World War II.
Ernie Calverly, 79, October 20 (illness)
Calverly led the nation in scoring for the Gulls during the 1943-44 season at 26.7 ppg and the Pawtucket native is generally regarded as one of the state’s all-time great athletes. He was also the MVP of the NIT in 1946, even though URI lost in the finals to Kentucky. He became one of the original players in the BAA and later coached Rhode Island to two NCAA tournament berths and a 139-114 record from 1958 to 1968.
Tommy Campbell, Bradley, 59, September 14
Campbell competed at Bradley during the mid-late 60’s, taking off three years to serve a tour in Vietnam. He was the team’s third-leading scorer during the 1964-65 and 1965-66 seasons before leaving to go overseas. Bradley later returned for his final year of eligibility at Bradley during the 1969-70 season.
Peter A. Carlesimo, 87, June 22 (unspecified illness)
While he never played or coached Division I hoops, Carlesimo was still extremely important in the evolution of major college basketball. He was the first full-time director of the National Invitational Tournament and has been credited with keeping the post-season tournament alive when the NCAA Tournament became the top draw in March. Carlesimo also created the pre-season NIT in 1985, which has become one of the top tournaments at the start of every season. A Fordham graduate, Carlesimo’s background was in football, but he also coached basketball at the University of Scranton in two stints between 1944 and 1955. The father of future Seton Hall head coach PJ Carlesimo was also athletic director at Fordham for many years.
Justin Chapman, 22, July 18 (drowning)
A native of Toledo, Chapman started his college basketball career at Alpena Community College before moving on to Wayne State his final two seasons in 2001-02 and 2002-03. He made an immediate impact at Wayne State, earning All-Conference honors as a junior and earned All-Defensive honors as a senior while leading the team in scoring. Chapman was known as a fierce competitor, but also a standout off the court, and his number 24 was retired by the school on December 6 and a memorial scholarship fund has also been set up in his name.
John Patrick Conroy, 95, November 4
Conroy was one of the original “Blocks of Granite”, a group of lineman at Fordham during the late 20’s-early 30’s that were virtually immovable and impenetrable. While he was best known for his football exploits, Conroy also played on the school’s basketball team and participated in the first-ever college basketball game held at Madison Square Garden. He was inducted into Fordham’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1980.
Dave DeBusschere, 62, May 14 (heart attack)
While the Hall-of-Famer will be recognized mostly for his exploits as a professional player, DeBusschere was one of the all-time great collegians as well. At the University of Detroit from 1960-62, he was an three-time All-American and ranks amongst the schools all-time leaders in scoring and rebounding. He still stands tied for fifth all-time in the NCAA record book for rebounds in a game with 39, and ranks in the Top 20 all-time in career rebounds. A two-sport athlete, DeBusschere later went on to fame with the Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks and also served as player/coach and general manager during his career, after a two-year stint in the major leagues.
Lee Denmon III, 23, March (gunshot wound)
A native of Los Angeles, Denmon started his collegiate career at LA Southwest Junior College before moving on to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, where he excelled as a three-point marksman. In two years and 54 career games, he set school records for three-point field goals made in a season with 69 and in a career with 120. After graduation, Denmon returned home to coach the freshman team at his alma mater, Morningside High School in Inglewood, when he was tragically and mistakenly caught in a drive-by shooting.
Patrick Dennehy, 21, July 27 (gunshot wound)
Dennehy, from Mountain View, California, started his college career at New Mexico, where he averaged 10.6 points and 7.5 rebounds as a sophomore starter. He transferred to Baylor, where he sat out the 2002-03 season as a redshirt. It is alleged that Dennehy’s good friend Carlton Dotson is responsible for Dennehy’s death. The 2003-04 season would have been Dehenny’s junior year and he had two seasons left of eligibility.
Kellen Dixon, 21, September 13 (auto accident)
A native of Berkeley, CA, Dixon attended St. Mary’s High School before moving onto UC-Riverside, where he was a mainly role player. The 6-foot-5 guard appeared in 17 games in 2002-03, averaging 1.5 points and 1.2 rebounds. He was killed when a tractor trailer veered off the road and hit the Jeep Cherokee he was riding in with a couple of teammates (who survived the accident). He would have been a junior in 2003-04, and UCR has dedicated this season to his memory.
Jack Donohue, 70, April 16 (cancer)
Donohue was one of the coaching legends in Canadian basketball history. He established the national program in the 1970s and coached Team Canada to four Olympics and a gold medal at the 1983 World University Games. Donohue actually started his coaching career in the United States in the high school ranks at famed Power Memorial Academy in New York in the early 60’s, where his star pupil was Lew Alcindor. He then moved on to Holy Cross where he compiled a 106-66 record in several seasons before moving up north of the border.
Robert Dowell, 91, November 27 (natural causes)
Nicknamed “Duck”, Dowell was first a basketball All-American at Northwest Missouri State in 1932 as a player before serving as both head basketball coach and athletic director at Pepperdine during the 1950’s and 60’s, where he coached the Waves to four straight conference titles from 1950 to 1953. He compiled a career coaching record of 263-263.
Brent Edwards, 21, November 25 (auto accident)
The young man known as “Buddha” to his teammates was a walk-on to the Chippewas program, but was very much a part of the team. As a freshman in 2002-03, Edwards made the team and appeared in three games, scoring two points and grabbing two rebounds. He was a team motivator who was also a three-sport athlete in high school. He had remained back at home when the CMU team traveled to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational.
Billy Feeney, 20, August 28
Feeney sat out at New Mexico in 2002-03 after transferring in from Portland State, where he had averaged 8.5 points and 3.6 rebounds as a freshman. It appeared that he would be big part of the Vikings future plans, but when there was a coaching change, he transferred to New Mexico. The Boulder, CO, native would have been a sophomore in eligibility for the Lobos.
Dick Fick, 50, April 28 (unspecified illness)
Fick was best known for his sideline antics while coaching Morehead State in the mid-90’s. His athletic career first started out in baseball, where he starred for Lewis University in the mid-70’s and was part of two national championship teams. Fick went on to be an assistant basketball coach at Valparaiso and Creighton before landing the Morehead State head coaching job in 1991. He had spent the last two seasons as a part-time assistant at the University of St. Francis in Joliet, IL, and had suffered from unspecified health problems.
Al Fleming, 49, May 14 (kidney failure)
A four-year star at Arizona, Fleming compiled career totals of 1765 points and 1190 rebounds and set a standard for boardwork that still stands today in Wildcat basketball history. The 6-foot-7 forward played on the Seattle Supersonics team that won the NBA title in 1978, and then went overseas where he finished his playing career. He then moved back to the U.S. where he settled in his native Michigan City, IN, where he and his brother started up a church.
William Sheldon Frear, 81, December 4
Frear, a native Canadian, was an Ottawa Brave through and through. After graduating from the University of Ottawa, where he was a member of three conference championship teams as a player, he coached high school basketball in nearby towns before becoming the head coach of the Braves in 1955. For the next 23 years, he would compile nearly 300 wins at the school before stepping down and working in other capacities at the university.
Anthony Frederick, 38, May 29 (heart attack)
Known best as a defensive specialist with his long arms and quickness, Frederick only played two seasons at Pepperdine but made an impact during his short stay. After transferring in from Santa Monica Community College, the 6-foot-8 forward helped the Waves to two straight NCAA tournament appearances in 1985 and 1986. He then went on to play 147 career games in the NBA with three different teams
Otto Graham, 82, December 17 (heart aneurysm)
There’s no question Graham will be remembered for his accomplishments on the football field, where he was a Hall of Famer and one of the best quarterbacks of all-time. But Graham actually cut his teeth athletically on the basketball court, where he started out at Northwestern on a basketball scholarship. There, he became an All-American in both basketball and football in 1943 and after a stint in the Navy, embarked on a sparking pro career where he appeared in the NFL championship game in every year that he played. But he also played pro basketball as well, winning a title with the Rochester Royals in the NBL in 1946. After his playing career, Graham coached football at the college and pro levels.
Basil Hayden, 103, January 9
One of the all-time greats in the early era of Kentucky basketball, Hayden’s retired jersey #41 is one of the select few that hang in Rupp Arena. He played for the Wildcats from 1920 to 1922 after transferring in from Transylvania, and was UK’s first-ever All-American in basketball in 1921. He captained the team that year which won the SIAA championship, which is thought to be the first college basketball tournament ever played. Hayden also competed in tennis and the javelin while at UK. After a few years in the insurance business, he returned to UK for one season as UK’s head coach in 1926-27, but compiled a 3-13 record and made the decision to return to insurance, later entering the banking industry.
Emmett Hendricks, 65, May 18 (illness)
Hendricks was only a head coach for three seasons, but was Southland Conference coach of the year in two of them. After taking over the Louisiana Tech program in 1974, Hendricks earned conference coaching honors in 1975-76 and 1976-77 and put together a career record of 40-37. Some of the players he coached during his short tenure include current coaches Tim Floyd (New Orleans Hornets), Jim Woolridge (Kansas State), and Mike McConathy (Northwestern State). Before his coaching career, Hendricks played at Northwestern (LA) State and also served in the Air Force.
John “Whack” Hyder, 90, February 9
Hyder was the second all-time winningest coach in Georgia Tech history, behind Bobby Cremins. From 1959 to 1971, Hyder compiled 292 wins, and led the Yellow Jackets to their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance in 1960. His most famous win came at the expense of Kentucky on January 8, 1955, when Georgia Tech snapped the Wildcats 129-game home winning streak. Hyder was also a letterman in four sports at Georgia Tech as a player. He also served in the Navy during World War II.
Raymond Lavietes, 88, January 12 (lung cancer)
The basketball pavilion at Harvard is named after Lavietes, who not only played for the Crimson in the 30’s, but was a great fan and supporter of Harvard athletics his entire life. Even though he grew up in New Haven, Connecticut, home of rival Yale, Lavietes went to Harvard and after participating on the boxing team as a freshman, joined the basketball team where he played two varsity seasons. After graduation he ran successful businesses in Connecticut, and his three million dollar donation in 1995 helped upgrade many of Harvard’s athletic facilities.
Robert MacLeod, January 13 (stroke)
MacLeod was best known for his football career at Dartmouth, but also competed on the school’s basketball team during his years at the school, reaching all-Ivy League status in 1938-39. But it was on the gridiron that MacLeod made his mark as a two-way standout, and his name is still littered in the school’s record books in several statistics. He played one season in the NFL with the Chicago Bears was later inducted into the school and the College Football hall of fames.
Kevin Magee, 40, November 27 (auto accident)
Magee was arguably the Anteaters’ all-time greatest basketball player. In only two seasons after transferring from Saddleback Junior College, he averaged 26.3 points and 11.3 rebounds and was a first team AP All-American his junior and senior seasons. He still holds the school records for points (46) and rebounds (25) in a game. He was a second round pick in the 1982 NBA Draft, but ended up playing his entire pro career overseas, notably in Israel, where he became a hoops legend. He had retired and was working as a warehouse supervisor near his native Summit, MS.
Chuck Noe, 79, December 8 (illness)
After a four-year standout career at Virginia, Noe actually started his professional career as a baseball player, but only reached the AA level in the Boston Red Sox organization before a broken ankle ended his career. He moved on to coaching, where he finished at Virginia Commonwealth where he helped the Rams program make the transition from Division II to Division I in the 1970’s. He became a radio host until passing away this year.
Joe O’Brien, 68, August 28 (illness)
O’Brien was affiliated with Assumption for much of his life, as a player during the mid-late 50’s, and then as the longtime basketball coach from 1967-85, where he compiled a 321-173 coaching record. While at Assumption, he also helped out as an assistant athletic director, and also coached baseball and cross country. After his coaching career, he went on to be executive director of the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1985 and was a key component in the Hall’s recent renovation efforts.
Kevin O’Shea, 77, February 21 (heart attack)
He finished his career as a politician and in business in San Francisco, but many will remember O’Shea’s reputation as a playground basketball star. A standout prep player, O’Shea was a four-year All-American at Notre Dame in the late 40’s after a stint in the Coast Guard during World War II. O’Shea finished his Fighting Irish career as the school’s all-time leading scorer and was the school’s first-ever first round NBA draft pick. He ended up playing three years in the NBA with the Minneapolis Lakers/Hawks and the Baltimore Bullets before entering the business world back home in the Bay Area.
Don Phillips, 85, March 10
Phillips served as football coach, basketball coach, and athletic director at Shepherd College in West Virginia in the late 40’s-early 50’s. He coached hoops from 1949 to 1951 and compiled a 17-24 record during that time period. He later concentrated on his work on the gridiron at Bethany College and West Virginia Tech.
Dave Polansky, 83, June 16
Polansky had a tough task at CCNY in the 1960’s, taking over for famed Nat Holman as head coach. After filling in a few times during the 50’s during the point-shaving scandals, Polansky took over for good four games into the 1959-60 season and compiled a 68-58 record over the next seven years, which included three City University of New York titles in 1966, 1967, and 1968. As a player, Polansky played under Holman in the late 30’s and also excelled on the track team at CCNY.
Bryan Randall, 37, September 22
A diminutive point guard for Dartmouth in the mid-80’s, Randall was the Ivy League’s Rookie of the Year in 1985 and ended up as the Big Green’s all-time assist leader with 488 by the time he graduated in 1988. He went on to play a little in the CBA with the San Jose Jammers. After his playing career, he became a sports talk host in the Washington, DC, area. Randall had been battling unemployment and domestic issues at the time of his death.
Norm Sloan, 77, December 9 (pulmonary fibrosis)
Sloan was best known for coaching one of the greatest teams and players of all time in North Carolina State and David Thompson in the early 70’s. His 1973-74 Wolfpack team captured the NCAA Championship, winning a dramatic ACC Championship game against Maryland and beating invincible UCLA in the Final Four. In 14 years at NC State, Sloan had a 266-127 record, and he also coached two stints at Florida before and after his time in Raleigh and along with stings at Presbyterian and The Citadel, compiled 627 career wins. Also a standout player at NC State, Sloan was an Indiana native who was enshrined in the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.
Steve Stroud, 48, January 27 (pancreatic cancer)
He wasn’t the star on the team, but Stroud was an important part of Arkansas’ SWC undefeated title team in 1976-77. While the “triplets” of Sidney Moncrief, Ron Brewer, and Marvin Delph did the scoring, it was 6-foot-11 Stroud who did the dirty work inside with his rebounding and defense. Stroud averaged 4.5 points and 4.7 rebounds as a senior. Arkansas lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament that season, but made the Final Four the following year. Stroud was working in Hot Springs as a sales director.
Brett Studdard, 28, October 26
A junior college transfer, Studdard played for head coach Benny Dees at Wyoming from 1991-93 as a reserve guard. He appeared in 57 career games, averaging 4.3 points and 1.0 rebounds. His career game as a Cowboy was a 20-point performance against UTEP his senior season. He was living in Roswell, GA, and had an altercation with a former girlfriend that led to an unfortunate murder/suicide incident.
Guy Vetrie, 52, September 16 (heart attack)
Vetrie was a well-respected head coach in the Canadian collegiate ranks, who not only coached winning college teams, but also helped out with the national team as well. After a playing career at Laurentian, Vetrie entered the coaching ranks at the University of Saskatchewan from 1979 to 1988, and moved on to the University of Victoria where he was coaching at the time of his untimely death. His career highlight was coaching the Victoria Vikes to the Canadian national championship in 1996-97.
Shawn Walton, 19, December 11
A native of East Liverpool, Ohio, Walton had just started his college basketball career at Thiel College in Pennsylvania. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound forward had appeared in four games, playing about 10 minutes a contest, and scored a total of four points and grabbed three rebounds. He passed away in his dorm room after having a hard time breathing.
W.T. Watson, 71, May (stroke)
There’s a reason the athletic center at Southern Arkansas is named after Watson – he was affiliated with the program for almost 40 years as a player, head basketball coach, and athletic director. A player for the Muleriders in the early 50’s, Watson took over the reins as head coach in 1963 and served in that capacity until the end of the 1979-80 season, winning three conference championships and four NAIA district titles. He then moved over to the position of athletic director where he operated until his retirement in 1998. He was inducted into the school’s hall of fame in its inaugural class this year.
Wyatt Webb, 62, October 8 (cancer)
When Webb was named head coach of Akron in 1968, it was unheard of for a young man in his mid-20’s (Webb was 26) to be in such a position. After all, Webb had just finished his playing career at Akron just a few years back. But Webb proved the doubters wrong, compiling a 126-60 record in seven seasons and taking the Zips to three NCAA Division II tournaments, including a title game appearance in 1971-72. Even though he resigned after 1975, he stayed at the school as a teacher and chairperson.
Ron Whitson, 58, August 23 (heart attack)
Whitson was one of Transy’s all-time greats as a basketball player, where during his four-year career he scored 1534 points, which ranks 14th all-time in school history. As a sophomore in 1964-65, he led the team to the NAIA Tournament and was a two-time team MVP. He was elected to the school’s Hall of Fame in 1999. He later served as the team’s head assistant coach from 1974 to 2001, and was serving as the school’s athletic director at the time of his death.
Steve Wright, 45, December 22 (cancer)
Wright finished his college career at one of Boston University’s all-time great player. He was the first three-time MVP in team history, and still ranks as the school’s fourth all-time leading scorer with 1641 career points. As a senior in 1979-80, Wright averaged 19.8 points and 6.0 rebounds and helped lead BU to their first post-season appearance in the NIT in over 20 years. He was selected by the Boston Celtics in the eighth round of the 1980 NBA Draft and was inducted into BU’s Hall of Fame in 1980.
Ned Wulk, 83, November 15 (cancer)
Wulk coached at Arizona State for 25 years, where he compiled a 406-272 record and led the Sun Devils to nine NCAA tournament berths. He coached at ASU from 1958 to 1982 and some of the later players he coached that went on to the NBA included Lafayette Lever, Kurt Nimphius, Alton Lister, and Lionel Hollins. Three times, his teams were one victory away from the Final Four in the NCAA Tournament. Wulk started his coaching career at Xavier as an assistant after graduating from LaCrosse State Teachers College.
Jewell Young, 90, April 16
Young was a three-time Big 10 scoring champ for Purdue in the late-1930’s and was elected to both the Purdue and the state of Indiana’s Hall of Fames. He was named outstanding athlete of the year in 1938 and after his playing career and a stint in the Navy, coached high school basketball in Indianapolis from 1946-54 before entering the business world. He was living in Bradenton, FL, at the time of his death.