Bob Bone remains men’s basketball leading scorer 36 years later
By ANNA MCNULTY
His name still dominates the record books, and his numbers remain untouched more than three decades later. Bob Bone has cemented his name within the University of Missouri–St. Louis community since his time as a baseball and basketball All-American, where he starred for the UMSL Rivermen from 1973-77. His legendary reputation has remained intact throughout the years in the St. Louis area, as has his presence. Now the athletic director at Clayton (Mo.) High School, Bone has never let his time and experiences at UMSL escape his memory as a player, coach or professional.
Bone started out as a standout athlete out of small-town Collinsville (Ill.) High School in the early 70s. Coming out of high school, Bone was a major prospect for schools around the area, Division I and Division II alike. He shied away from the larger Division I schools, choosing UMSL due to the fact that he could play both baseball and basketball during his time at school.
“I loved playing both sports,” Bone said. “Baseball was more fun for me because I did not feel the expectations and pressure that I felt in basketball.”
Bone’s success was equally fulfilling during his time on the court as well as on the field as a second baseman. He still ranks 10th all-time in program history in career stolen bases with 61. That includes the 35 he stole during the 1977 season, which ranks seventh on the single-season charts. Bone is also tied for seventh in career runs with 116. He was recognized as an honorable mention All-American selection during the 1977 season.
The only downside to playing baseball?
“I hated the cold weather,” he said.
Frigid temperatures aside, Bone always felt more comfortable on the basketball court due to his belief that he was always more knowledgeable about that sport. That intelligence got him far, putting him in the top spot for career points (2,678), and also career assists (446). Bone’s numbers dominated these spots for an extended period of time. No player since has even come close to achieving what he did, including Jonathan Griffin (2002-06), who ranks second all-time in career scoring with 1,739 points – nearly 1,000 points less than Bone.
Bone’s name also leads nearly every offensive category, including career and single season categories for scoring average, field goals made, field goals attempted, free throws made, free throws attempted and assists average.
Bone’s time at UMSL was not fully defined by numbers, but moments as well. One in particular involved a game against the Indiana State Sycamores and a standout forward named Larry Bird. The game ended in the Sycamores’ favor, the score 62-78.
“Bird had on canvas Converse and was not that athletic so I’m telling Jimmy [Goessling] that he could guard him without a problem, and Goessling is saying he would shut him down and then we could win the game. Bird ended up with 48 that night so after the game I’m asking Jimmy what happened to shutting Bird down. He just looked at me and told me he had shut Bird down by holding him under 50,” Bone said. “I had 38 that night but we lost.”
Bone was an All-American in each of his last three years at UMSL. He was also selected to play in the East-West All Star game. He attributed his success to numerous factors, including his father who he claims instilled his mental toughness and desire, his God-given speed and quickness, and his confidence in his abilities.
Bone immediately made the move to coaching upon graduating. He was the assistant coach at both Southern Illinois University-Carbondale as well as Saint Louis University before taking the head coaching job at East Central College in Union, Mo. He then made the choice to coach at his high school alma mater, Collinsville High School. His choice was motivated by one major facet, his children.
“I decided to take the job at Collinsville to be able to spend more time with my kids,” Bone recalls. “I was very fortunate to work in the same place that my children went to school and to be able to see them every day. I got to coach my sons, and I am very glad I did.”
Bone stepped down as the head coach for Collinsville High School after 27 years and decided to make the transition to the athletic director for Clayton High School where he has remains today. Although he is past both his playing and coaching days, he is content with his choice.
“Since basketball and athletics have always been such a big part of my life, I will always feel the connection no matter what I am doing,” Bone said. “Basketball has given me a lifetime of memories and experiences that I could have never gotten any other way.”
Forever grateful to the sport that gave so much to him; forever grateful the sport will be in return. Bone has remained the best basketball player and one of the best two-sport athletes ever to wear the UMSL uniform. He has etched his name in stone within the university and the St. Louis community due to his outstanding positions as a player, coach and administrator.
“UMSL has had a major influence in my life,” Bone said. “All of my jobs have centered on basketball or athletics in general and many parts of my life were shaped by my experiences at UMSL and the people I have met.”
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