50 Bob Burrow

Bob Burrow
Hometown (Last School)
Wells, TX (High)
1954-55, 1955-56
June 29, 1934

The son of a lumberjack, Burrow was considered the nation’s No. 1 junior college player in 1954 at Lon Morris, where he scored 2,191 points.

From the 1956 University of Kentucky Basketball Media Guide:

A transplanted Texan whose successful conversion from junior college ranks to the “big time” aided greatly in Kentucky’s amazing rebuilding job last season. Already the first junior college graduate ever to gain a starting berth on the Kentucky five, the genial Burrow is aiming at another record-that of becoming the first junior college alumnus to gain a spot on the first team All-America selections. A second (Helms Foundation) and third team (AP) mention last year, after a brilliant two-season record at Lon Morris Junior College in Texas, Bob is rated a prime prospect to be elevated to the top spot if he takes up where he left off last March. The tall Texan paced the Wildcats in every offensive department a year ago, scoring an average of 19 points per game and rebounding at a nationally-rated pace of 17.7 a game, but was handicapped in the early stages of the season by unfamiliarity with the Kentucky style of play and caliber of competition. He can be expected to put in a serious bid for Southeastern scoring honors from the very opening tipoff this season and should improve on his defensive skill and rebounding. The 6-7 ace set a school record by dragging down 34 rebounds against Temple last season and received many tributes on his ability in this department, such as the quote from LSU Coach Harry Rabenhorst: “That Burrow killed us on the boards.” DePaul Coach Ray Meyer declared “The only way to beat Kentucky is to break Burrow’s control of the backboards.” Bob reached possibly his greatest heights when he outscored the fabulous Tom Gola from the field, seven goals to six, and ended up only two points behind his man (18 to Gola’s 20) in total points as Kentucky defeated LaSalle in the U.K. Invitational Tournament. Against the SEC’s leading scorer, Denver Brackeen of Ole Miss, he scored 26 while holding Brackeen to 20. Burrow, already an All-Southeastern and All-NCAA Tournament pick, has all the necessary attributes of an All-American-size, speed, defensive ability, superior rebounding skill, great scoring potential, intelligence and a hatful of shots.

From 2005 UK Hall of Fame Induction:

Two-time All-American, including an NCAA Consensus Second Team All-America selection in 1956 … Averaged 20.1 points and 16.1 rebounds in two seasons played … Averaged a double-double in both seasons … Member of the 1,000-point club despite playing just two seasons … His 17.7 rebounding average in the 1954-55 season is still the best single-season mark in school history … Led UK to the SEC championship that season … His 14.6 rebounding average the following season ranks fourth … Recorded 34 rebounds vs. Temple on Dec. 10, 1955, tied with Bill Spivey for the most in a single game in school history … Would rank No. 1 on the school’s career rebounding average list if he qualified (minimum is 60 games) … In addition to NCAA Consensus All-America Second Team honors in 1956, also named All-America First Team by the NABC and Look Magazine … All-SEC First Team in both seasons … Tabbed to the All-NCAA Regional Team in both 1955 and 1956 … Selected by the Rochester Royals in the 1956 NBA Draft … Played two seasons in the NBA with the Rochester Royals and Minneapolis Lakers.

Fort Knox High School to immortalize Bob Burrow,  The News Enterprise (September 6, 2019), by Ben Sheroan

Graduates of Fort Knox High School have found a way to commemorate the memory of Bob Burrow, a coach and administrator who invested 39 of his 84 years working at the schools on post.

During a ce­lebration Sa­turday, the high school gym officially will be named the Robert “Bob” Burrow Gymnasium.
The Fort Knox High Alum­ni Association came up with the idea of honoring Burrow’s service last year and its members did the legwork including fundraising and securing the necessary approval, said Rod Mullins of the Class of 1973.
Mullins said the gym was constructed in the early 1960s while Burrow was the Fort Knox High basketball coach.

Hired in 1958 as a teacher and coach, most of Burrow’s education career was spent as a high school principal. He later moved into an assistant superintendent’s role before retiring as superintendent in 1997.

Burrow, who made his home in Radcliff, died Jan. 3 at age 84. He will be represented at Saturday’s ceremonies by his wife Lee Ann, also a former teacher at Fort Knox High, and their sons, Brett and Grant.
The gym floor has been repainted to incorporate Burrow’s name and a commemorative plaque also will be unveiled during the ceremony, which begins at 1 p.m. Saturday.
A native of Arkansas, Burrow came to Fort Knox to teach and coach after two years of professional basketball, which followed his time at the University of Kentucky playing for the legendary Adolph Rupp. In 2005, Burrow was inaugurated into the initial class of the University of Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame and his No. 50 jersey hangs from the rafters at Rupp Arena.
Mullins, who spent 11 of his 12 school years at Fort Knox, said the Burrows “became family to me.” At the alumni association’s meeting in October, the group signed a giant get-well card for Burrow and Mullins delivered it to their retirement home in the Nashville, Tennessee, area.

“I ended up spending four hours visiting with Bob and Lee Ann,” he said. “I was humbled to no end.”

Other graduates singled out for special thanks in the event program are David Messer, Melody A. Price, Michelle Hackett Shipp, Doug Simmons and Mike Walton.

Getting clearance for this commemorative project required approval from the Department of Defense Education Activity. Mullins said the group had a special connection in his 1973 classmate, Dr. Youlanda Cumings Washington, who is superintendent of post schools at Fort Knox and Fort Campbell.

Obituary – Bob Burrow’s legacy lives on through family, Kentucky Kernel (January 9, 2019), by Jake Maynard

Big Blue Nation lost one of its brightest stars.

On January 3rd, 2019, Robert “Bob” Brantley Burrow passed away at the age of 84.

 Burrow was born in Malvern, Arkansas but played high school basketball in Wells, Texas. In 1952, Burrow enrolled at a nearby junior college called Lon Morris, where his well-known basketball legacy would begin. He scored a whopping 2,191 points in his two years with the Lon Morris Bearcats. After a highly successful JUCO career, Adolph Rupp reportedly offered Burrow a spot with the Kentucky Wildcats without ever seeing him play.  

In Burrow’s two-year career with the Wildcats, beginning in 1954, he quickly established himself as one of the best players in the nation, and perhaps the greatest rebounder in Kentucky’s history. In his first season with Kentucky, Burrow recorded 459 rebounds, the third highest in school history. The 6’7 center did this in only 26 games, averaging a school record 17.7 rebounds that season.  

On December 10thof the next year, Burrow pulled down 34 rebounds against Temple, tying Bill Spivey’s school rebounding record. The 34 rebounds also tie him for the 26thhighest rebounding game in NCAA history.  

Burrow’s rebounding prowess alone would earn him a place in Wildcat lore, but he was also a an efficient scorer. He averaged 20.1 points throughout his career– the fourth best in Kentucky history. In his senior year, Burrow had 50, 40 and 34-point games. Upon leaving UK, Burrow ended his career with 1,023 points in just two years and 51 games. 

For his efforts, Burrow was selected as an All-American both of his years with Kentucky. He was a consensus second-team All-American his first year with the Wildcats but made the first-team his senior year. 

In his lifetime, Burrow earned himself some of the most prestigious awards a Kentucky player can obtain. In 2005, Burrow was inducted into the Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame.

Burrow played two years in the NBA. He was drafted in 1956 by the Rochester Royals, the franchise that would one day become the Sacramento Kings. He played for the Royals in the 1956-1957 season and for the Minneapolis Lakers the next year.  

Becoming one of the best basketball players in the history of one of the storied basketball schools in the NCAA constitutes a successful life, but Burrow was meant to excel in other areas of life as well. During the 1970’s, he served as the principal of Fort Knox High School where, along with his wife Lee Ann, he would impact hundreds of young lives. 

One of Burrow’s students gave a eulogy at his funeral, where he said, “Bob Burrow inspired everyone he met… Best of all, Bob Burrow made every student feel good about simply being young.”

There is a movement currently underway amongst the alumni of Fort Knox High School to name a gym after Burrow.

Family was extremely important to Burrow, a theme well expressed by his younger son Grant’s eulogy, “Although Dad raised us to have integrity, be honest and ethical, and do our best at whatever we did, the most important lesson Dad (and Mom) taught us was how important family is.” 

Burrow’s son recalled many poker games with his father and older brother Brett. On one such occasion, Burrow remembers his father saying to him, “My enjoyment is not about the game, although I enjoy playing.  It is about spending time with you and Brett and your friends.” 

The importance of family was imparted through basketball as well. Burrow coached his sons and when the time came, he taught them a bit about coaching their own children. Grant Burrow remembers him saying, “You don’t have to know the game backwards and forwards to teach your kids and create memories.  You just have to be there.” 

Burrow’s memory is being carried on by his family in an incredibly special way- for over 65 years a Burrow has worn number 50. Burrow’s eldest son, Brett, wore number 50 throughout his successful career at North Hardin High School and later with the Vanderbilt Commodores. A third generation of number 50’s came when Brett Burrow’s son wore it at Brentwood High School. Today, Grant Burrow’s daughter wears number 50 for her middle school travel team, Mid TN Elite.

Look up at the ceiling of Rupp Arena, a building with as much basketball history as any other, and you will see number 50 hanging in the rafters to honor one of Kentucky’s all-time greats.

Obituary – UK All-American Bob Burrow Dies at 84, Elizabethtown News-Enterprise (January 4, 2019) by Ben Sheroan

Most descriptions of Bob Burrow begin with basketball, but he cast a much longer shadow locally.

The two-time University of Kentucky All-American, who made his home in Radcliff during an almost four-decade career as an educator and administrator at Fort Knox, died Thursday morning. He was 84.

While his No. 50 jersey hangs in the rafters at Rupp Arena, he seldom discussed his playing days, according to his son, Brett Burrow, who excelled in the same sport at North Hardin High School and Vanderbilt University.

“He was probably the most humble man I know,” Burrow said of his father Thursday from his law office in Nashville, Tennessee. “He never spoke of that. He never crowed about it.”

Burrow took up the game seriously as a high school junior after his family moved from his native Arkansas to Wells, Texas. He led Lon Morris Junior College of Jacksonville, Texas, to two consecutive junior college national tournaments and transferred to UK, immediately becoming a starter for Coach Adolph Rupp.

“Rupp told me I was only the second junior college player he had tried,” Burrow said in a 1985 interview with The Cats Pause magazine. “The first one hadn’t worked out but he thought it was worth a second shot. I was glad he did, and he was glad, too.”

At 6-7 and 230 pounds, Burrow made an immediate impact upon arriving at UK as a junior. He averaged 19 points per game and 17.7 rebounds followed by 21.1 points and 14.6 rebounds the next year as the team finished 43-9 during his tenure and made back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances. He still shares the school record for most rebounds in a game at 34 and is fifth on the single-game scoring list thanks to a 50-point game against LSU in 1956.

Besides two years playing in the NBA for the Rochester Royals and Minneapolis Lakers, Burrow spent his entire working career with the Fort Knox Schools. Hired in 1958 as a teacher and coach, he spent 39 years working on post — most as the high school principal — before retiring as superintendent in 1997.

Dr. Roland Haun, who spent 17 years as superintendent of Fort Knox Dependent Schools, said as a school boy he had idolized Burrow’s skill at UK, but didn’t meet him until conducting his first staff meeting as superintendent. At the time, he did not know Burrow was principal at Fort Knox High.

“Once I saw who it was, I couldn’t speak,” Haun recalled Thursday.

After a few years, Haun brought Burrow into the central office as the assistant superintendent for business. Burrow followed Haun into the superintendent’s position.

“He was very, very good at his job,” Haun said.

Former North Hardin basketball coach Ron Bevars, a member of the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame, coached both of Burrow’s sons, Brett and Grant. He described Bob Burrow as having a superb understanding of the game, yet never a distraction.

“You couldn’t ask for a better parent or supporter,” he said.

As head basketball coach for nine seasons, Burrow’s Fort Knox teams finished 132-88, a .600 winning percentage which included the 1960 district championship, according to the Kentucky High School Basketball Encyclopedia.

The school also was central in his life because that’s where he met his wife, LeeAnn, who worked as a biology teacher.

Todd Berry, who has been friends with the Burrow family since grade school, said many people might recall Bob Burrow as stern, an outgrowth of his responsibilities at a school on a military post, but he saw much more.

“He liked to have fun more than anyone I’ve ever met,” Berry said, adding later, “the world is a sadder place without Bob Burrow.”

Brett said, while his father was raised in Arkansas and Texas, “Radcliff is home. That’s where all the memories were.”

More than a decade ago, Bob and LeeAnn moved to the Nashville area to be near their sons “after the grandkids came along,” Brett said. “Before that he wasn’t too interested.”

Burrow had been ill for several months and died in Hospice care. The funeral is at 3 p.m. CST Sunday at Williamson Memorial, 3009 Columbia Ave., Franklin, Tennessee. Visitation begins at noon CST Sunday.

In addition to his wife and their sons, Brett and Grant, Burrow is survived by four grandchildren.

Obituary – Kentucky great Bob Burrow, holder of records that might never be broken, dies at 84, Lexington Herald Leader (January 4, 2019) by Jared Peck

Bob Burrow, a college transfer who became one of the greatest players ever to put on a Kentucky uniform, died Thursday, according to UK. He was 84.

“Bob Burrow occupies a special place in Kentucky basketball history,” UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said in a press release. “In two short years, he left an incredible legacy and set records that stand six decades later. As a UK Athletics family, we offer our condolences to his family and friends.”

Burrow had his No. 50 retired to the rafters in Rupp Arena in 1999.

Burrow played for Adolph Rupp for two seasons beginning in 1954, quickly establishing himself as a star after transferring from Lon Morris Junior College in Texas.

Averaging 20.1 points per game at UK, Burrow became the eighth member of the 1,000-point club and remains the third-fastest player to reach that milestone. His career scoring average remains fourth on UK’s all-time list. His 50 points in a single game against LSU in 1956 ranks fifth. Burrow’s 1,023 points ranks 56th in UK history

In an age when the term double-double probably wasn’t in the basketball lexicon yet, Burrow racked them up with ease, averaging a double-double each season. In 1954-55, he averaged 17.7 rebounds per game, still the best single-season average in school history. His 14.6 average the next year ranks fourth all-time.

He’s also co-holder of the record for most rebounds in a game at UK, a feat the Herald-Leader’s Mark Story listed among the 10 UK basketball records that will likely never be broken in a 2018 column. Burrow grabbed 34 boards against Temple on Dec. 10, 1955. Bill Spivey did the same against Xavier on Feb. 13, 1951.

Former Kentucky coach Joe B. Hall on Friday called Burrow a “great, great rebounder. One of the best.”

What made Burrow so effective in Hall’s estimation? 

“Well, he was bigger than everybody. He was a big kid,” Hall said of Burrow, who was listed at 6-foot-7, 215 pounds. “And he was strong and aggressive. And he knew how to play. I remember him being a very smart-type player. He knew how to present himself for the ball, get himself open, pin his man.

“He was the ultimate post man.”

Burrow’s career average of 16.1 rebounds per game is almost three rebounds higher than Cliff Hagan, the official record holder of the mark because Hagan played the required 60 games to have it. Burrow played only 51 games.

Burrow was named a Second Team All-American by the Helms Foundation and Third Team All-American by the Associated Press in 1955. In 1956, he earned NCAA Consensus Second Team All-America honors with first-team nods from the National Association of Basketball Coaches and Look Magazine.

Burrow led the Cats to the 1955 Southeastern Conference title and was a two-time All-SEC honoree and two-time NCAA All-Regional Team member in 1955 and 1956.

He was named to the UK Athletics Hall of Fame as a member of the 2005 charter class.

Burrow was selected by the Rochester Royals in the 1956 NBA Draft and played two seasons in the NBA.

After his playing career, he coached boys’ basketball and taught at Fort Knox High School from 1958-67 before becoming assistant principal in 1967. He took over as principal in 1968 and remained in the post until 1980. He served as the assistant superintendent of business of the Fort Knox Community Schools from 1980 until 1993 and finished his career as the superintendent from 1993 to 1994.

Burrow is survived by his wife, Lee Ann Burrow; sons Brett (wife, Diane) and Grant (wife, Susan); and his grandchildren, Reed, Paige, Blanne and Brooklin.

Visitation will be Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. CST at the Williamson Memorial Funeral Home in Franklin, Tenn. The service will begin at 3 p.m. CST at the same location. Both are open to the public.

In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy may be made to the Room In The Inn program at Oak Valley Baptist Church at 1161 Lewisburg Pike, Franklin, TN 37064.