Former truck driver Bevo Francis was a college basketball legend

March 14, 2018

Mark Schremmer

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Rio Grande’s Bevo Francis, who later became a truck driver, was college basketball’s first player to score 100 points in a game. (Courtesy of the University of Rio Grande)

The first college basketball player to score 100 points in a game didn’t make millions in the NBA.

Nope. After leaving college, Bevo Francis turned down an offer to play for the Philadelphia Warriors. He later spent much of his career as a truck driver and steel mill worker.

As we enter March Madness, it’s a good time to remember one of college basketball’s first legends. Francis dropped 116 points against Ashland College in 1953 and 113 points against Hillsdale College in 1954.

A basketball legend who spent much of his adult life in anonymity, Francis earned a slew of college basketball records during his two seasons at Rio Grande College in Ohio. While the NCAA didn’t count his 116-point performance as the record because Ashland was a two-year college, Francis’ 113-point outing against Hillsdale stood as the NCAA record for the most points in a single game for nearly six decades. Grinnell’s Jack Taylor eclipsed Francis’ mark with 138 points against Faith Baptist Bible in 2012. However, it must be noted that Francis’ total came without the benefit of the 3-point line.

Francis, who died in 2015, holds the NCAA record with 46.5 points per game in 1954. The 6-foot-9 center scored 50 points or more during 14 games of his two-year career.

According to a New York Times article, Francis said he stopped playing after the 1953-54 season to support his wife and son. He signed a $12,000 contract with the Harlem Globetrotters to play for a barnstorming team called the Boston Whirlwinds. He also played for the Eastern Professional League and the American Basketball League but never in the NBA.

Instead, he spent most of his life working blue-collar jobs as a truck driver, steel mill worker and a tire factory worker.

In 2016, Francis was inducted into the Small College Basketball Hall of Fame. In addition, the Bevo Francis Award honors the best small college player each year.

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, staff writer, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and nearly two decades of journalism experience to our staff.