Bob Houbregs, former UW men's basketball star, dies at age 82

Staff writerMay 28, 2014 

William Henry Harrison Dye and Bob Houbregs

Washington Coach Tippy Dye gives strategy talk to Husky star Bob Houbregs during western regional NCAA first-round game with Seattle University in Corvallis, Ore., on March 13, 1953. Houbregs went on to score 45 points a new tourney record in the game, sparking his team to a 92-70 victory. (AP Photo/Ed Johnson)


Bob Houbregs, the former University of Washington star basketball player who led the Huskies to their only Final Four appearance in 1953, died Wednesday morning. He was 82.

Houbregs, a native of Vancouver, British Columbia, attended Queen Anne High School in Seattle and played at UW from 1951 to 1953. The 6-foot-7 forward is considered one of the best players in school history, and his No. 25 jersey is one of two hanging from the Hec Edmundson Pavilion rafters.

Houbregs ranks fifth all time at UW with 1,774 career points, and he holds school records for points in a game (49 against Idaho in 1953) and points in a season (846 total and 25.6 per game in 1953). He also ranks second in school history in career scoring average (19.5 points per game), and in three years grabbed an average of 10.7 rebounds per game. That mark is third best in UW history.

That 1952-53 UW team remains the only in school history to advance to the Final Four, finishing with a 28-3 record. For his efforts that season, Houbregs was named NCAA player of the year and was a consensus All-American — the only player in UW history to claim either of those honors.

“Bob was an icon in our community,” UW athletic director

Scott Woodward said in a statement released by the school.

“His efforts on the court helped put Washington basketball on the map, but what made him remarkable was his character beyond the game of basketball. He had a way of connecting with people in a very genuine manner, and his presence will be truly missed here.”

Houbregs, nicknamed “Hooks” after his famed hook shot, was the first UW player to have his jersey retired. His No. 25 and Brandon Roy’s No. 3 are the only men’s basketball jerseys hanging in the Hec Ed rafters.

Another distinction held by Houbregs: He’s still the highest-drafted player in UW’s history, going No. 2 overall to the Milwaukee Hawks in 1953. Houbregs played five seasons total for four NBA teams before retiring. He returned to Seattle as general manager of the Seattle Supersonics from 1969-73 and is a member of the Husky Hall of Fame (1979), the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (1987) and the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame (2000).

Houbregs moved back to the area and lived in Olympia. Until health problems cut into his attendance, he was a regular at UW basketball games and was often shown on the television broadcast or the arena’s scoreboard screen.

UW coach Lorenzo Romar, who first met Houbregs during his own playing days at UW in the early 1980s, said he’ll remember Houbregs for “how gentle of a man he was. He wasn’t a softy when he played. He was out there wreaking havoc. Off the floor, as a man, he was as caring and humble as you want to find.”

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