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Mizzou's Greatest, #82: Bill Stauffer

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The Savitar

UPDATE: Mizzou announced this morning that Stauffer had passed away at the age of 85. May he rest in peace.


He played with power, he played with finesse. He played a little guard and a little forward, but mostly, he played center. He went up against men a full head taller and destroyed them. At a time when 6’9" gazelles ruled the post, a 6’3" bull overwhelmed them. He could pull up and shoot from the outside, or he could drive to the basket and score in traffic. But more than anything, he could rebound. In Missouri history, no one has made greater success out of others’ failures. For Bill Stauffer, every errant shot meant opportunity. Cold shooters were his prey. He owned the glass.

Stauffer came to Columbia from Maryville, where, as a boy, he delivered newspapers to Sparky Stalcup’s apartment, and watched the coach direct basketball practices. When Stauffer made his way to the University of Missouri, he brought a friend, Dick Adams, his high school teammate. Together, they provided Stalcup with young talent on which to build. [...]

In his final season, the Tiger captain enjoyed a scoring and rebounding binge of epic proportions. Stauffer’s 368 points shattered the season scoring mark. He also demolished his own rebounding record by grabbing 379 caroms, an average of 16.5 per game. In three varsity seasons, Stauffer averaged 13.6 rebounds, a figure that has never been seriously challenged. He also scored 813 points (11.4 per game) to surpass Dan Pippin as Missouri’s career scoring leader. Bill Stauffer graduated as perhaps the greatest Tiger of all-time.

Bill Stauffer, a 6’4" guard-turned-center from Maryville, Missouri, was the best rebounder in Missouri Tiger history. Despite typically facing larger opponents, Stauffer led Mizzou in rebounding in all three of his varsity seasons, and his per game averages in his junior and senior years (14.9 and 16.5, respectively) ranked first and second in Missouri’s first century of basketball. His career average of 13.6 rebounds is nearly two per game more than his closest competitor. In addition to rebounding, Stauffer developed into a prolific scorer, setting a Tiger season record as a senior with 368 points, and a career record with 807 points in 72 games, an average of 11.2 per contest. Stauffer twice made the All-Big Seven team, and earned All-America recognition for his play in the 1951-52 season. He then became the first Tiger to be drafted into the NBA when the Boston Celtics selected him in 1952. Stauffer, however, never played for the Celtics. Instead, a higher duty called, and he turned the Andrews Air Force base team into the world’s best military squad. His 43 was the first basketball number to be retired by Mizzou, and he remains one of only six Tigers to receive that honor.

Missouri's first accomplished big man, Stauffer established the MU career rebounding record from 1950-52, that stood for 31 years (until Steve Stipanovich came along). On the way to grabbing 964 rebounds, he set three records that still stand - 379 rebounds in 1952, with a per-game average that year of 16.5, and a career rebound average of 13.6. He was an all-Big Seven selection in 1951 and '52, and as a senior, was team captain and all-America. He was the first Tiger ever to have his number (43) retired, and was chosen by the Boston Celtics in the inaugural NBA draft. Stauffer is a native of Maryville, Mo., and currently resides in Des Moines, Iowa.

How will someone ever top 16.5 rebounds per game? Stauffer was an incredible player in a less-than-incredible time for Mizzou basketball. With a better supporting cast, his name would carry even more heft with Mizzou fans; but as it stands, he'll have to settle for 'only' being Mizzou's greatest rebounder ever and seeing his number retired in the rafters.