10 Louie Dampier

Name
Position
Guard
Class
SR
Hometown (Last School)
Indianapolis, IN (Southport)
Ht
6'0"
Wt
167
Seasons
1964-65, 1965-66, 1966-67
Birthday
November 20, 1944

was born Louis Neid Dampier on November 20, 1944, in Indianapolis, Indiana to William Dampier, Jr. and Elizabeth Weiland Dampier.  He was also known as “Little Louie” because of his frail build.  He played at Southport High School. He was a 24 ppg scorer for Coach Blackie Braden’s 1963 county and sectional champs and set a sectional scoring record for 40 points in one game and for one tournament (114 in four games which bettered a record set by Oscar Robertson).  As a senior he led the state in scoring with 693 points. He also led his team in rebounding and paced his conference in assists.  He racked up 1,011 points in three seasons.

Dampier was awarded a grant-in-aid scholarship to Kentucky March 8, 1963.  Adolph Rupp said of Dampier at the time, “We feel very fortunate that Dampier has decided to cast his destiny with us for the next four years and I personally am sure that the people of Kentucky will be thrilled they see this young man perform.”

He was a two-sport athlete at the University of Kentucky, playing baseball as well as basketball. Playing under coach Adolph Rupp, Dampier, Tommy Kron and Pat Riley led Rupp’s Runts to the 1966 NCAA championship game, where they lost to College (now the University of Texas at El Paso) in a watershed game for college basketball.  Dampier averaged 21 points per game and was the heart and soul of Rupp’s guard-oriented attack, a deadly shooter from the corner and devastating scorer in the open floor. 

When the Olympic basketball squads were practicing in Lexington, Dampier filled in when one of the players was injured. “Louie the Great” was so impressive that the Olympic coach tried to persuade officials to permit the adding of Dampier to the Olympic squad—one of the greatest tributes that can be given to anyone—especially to a fellow who was a college freshman at the time.

As a freshman, Dampier scored 427 points in 16 games for a 26.7 ppg average.  That was good enough for second for freshman production ever, second only to Cotton Nash.  Dampier proved the most accurate freshman shooter as he connected at a 52% clip from the field and set a yearling record for field goals made with 168.  He won Jaycees Freshman Leadership Award following that season and was high point man in 10 games with top of 36.  His low game was 17 points.  He never failed to score in double figures as a freshman.

Dampier scored 18 points in his very first varsity game at Kentucky.  In just his third varsity game, against Iowa State on December 9, 1964, Dampier scored 37 points and came within two of Kentucky’s all-time field-goal record as he sizzled the strings for 17 fielders—just shy of Bob Burrow’s 19, set against Louisiana State on Jan. 14. 1956.  When Dampier was rested with 3:03 left, he received a standing ovation for his brilliant effort.  The Hoosier hotshot canned 19 points in the first half and then added 18 more after halftime.  He followed that up with a 31-point performance against Syracuse just 3 days later.  A little over two weeks later he netted 32 points in a losing effort against Notre Dame.  He finished the season with 426 points with an average of 17 per game.

In his junior season, he was a model of consistency scoring over 20 points in five out of the first six games of the season.  On December 18, 1965, Kentucky faced Indiana, Dampier’s home state, for the first time in 21 years and Dampier didn’t disappoint. He scored 28 points to lead the Wildcats to a 91-56 win in the UKIT.  Four days later, Dampier injured his ankle just before halftime against Texas Tech and only managed 13 points.  Adolph Rupp described the injury as a “humdinger.”  He said a ligament had torn off in the right ankle.  He returned to Indiana over Christmas break with trainer Spike Kern supervising whirlpool treatments to continue efforts to repair the ankle.   He came roaring back with 26 points against Notre Dame on December 29, 1965, in Freedom Hall.  

Dampier’s best game as a Wildcat was February 2, 1966, when his career-high 42 points sparked No. 2 Kentucky to an 105-90 win over third-ranked Vanderbilt.  He shot 18 for 29, went a perfect 6 for 6 from the free-throw line, and added nine rebounds to his performance. What added flourish to his scoring spree was that most of his basket bombing came from outside—from 20 feet or beyond.  He is still one of only three Kentucky players to score 40 or more points on an opponent’s home court joining Dan Issel (51 points at LSU on February 21, 1970) and Jodie Meeks (54 points at Tennessee on January 13, 2009).  Rupp called Dampier “the most fantastic shot I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen some good ball players in my time.” He said the 6-0, 167-pound Indianapolis product is the “best shot I have coached.”

Dampier was named to the 1966 AP All-American team and placed third in Player of the Year voting.  Of the honor Louie said, “It’s my greatest thrill…I am surprised…In fact, I am shocked.”

In the finals of the 1966 NCAA basketball tournament against Texas Western,  and Pat Riley, two of Kentucky’s short but excellent players, scored 19 points each. Dampier, only 6 feet tall, led the Wildcats in rebounds with nine.  But all of Kentucky’s efforts, so good for a small squad all season, were to no avail against a squad that measured 6-7 and 6-8 in a couple of spots. However, Hill and 5-6 Willie Worsley, another of the three New Yorkers on the Texas team, were the shortest men to reach the semi-finals of this tournament.

Both Kentucky and reached the final after much of the same type of season. Each squad ran up undefeated strings of 23 games before suffering their first loss. Each lost two weeks before the start of the N.C.A.A. tournament.

then got into action in the first round of the tournament and progressed to the semi-finals, where the Miners beat Utah. Kentucky, with a bye in the first round, went through the second and third rounds to the semi-finals, where the Wildcats defeated in a game between the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the nation.

As the Texans seemed sure of victory in the last minute, their fans began chanting, “We’re No. 1.” And as they left the arena, many were yelling, “We won this one for L.B.J.”

Rupp gave Hill credit for the inevitable “turning point of the game.” The Baron referred to Hill’s stealing the ball twice within 10 seconds for layups just after Shed sank the foul shot to give the Miners the lead they never lost.  Texas Western, overlooked in preseason ratings in December, became the collegiate basketball champion for the first time by whipping long-time powerful Kentucky, 72-65.

After the Wildcats lost to Texas Western, Dampier entered the dressing room to congratulate the Miners. Word of Dampier’s visit reached El Paso, Texas and he received a large quantity of letters expressing appreciation for “fine sportsmanship.”

Dampier was part of a balanced attack that led that 1965-66 Kentucky team to a 27-2 record, the Southeastem Conference title, and the finals of the NCAA basketball tournament.  Dampier shared the team’s Most Valuable Player award with his roommate, Pat Riley.  Dampier was second in scoring with a 21.1 average, first in shooting with a 51.6 percentage, second in foul shooting with an 83.2 percentage, and first in time played with 1,079 minutes.  The Wildcats also broke the all-time Kentucky records for field goal shooting percentages.  The team mark of 48.9 broke a record of 44.9 percent set in 1965, and Dampier and Riley both broke Dampier’s record of 51.2 percent from the field in 1655.

Dampier started his senior year off with a bang by scoring over 30 points in each of his first three games:  31 points against Virginia on December 3, 1966, 40 points against Illinois December 5, 1966 (is tied for the fourth-highest scoring game by a Cat in Memorial Coliseum) and 32 points against Northwestern on December 10.  He was the UKIT scoring champ with 51 points and was the second to repeat for the honor, joining West Virginia’s Jerry West of 1958-59 fame.  Dampier, in the two UKIT games, hit 21 straight free throws for a tourney record.  It also marked the first time in UK history that anyone had hit as many as 14 in a game without a miss. The record was held by the same Mr. Dampier, 13 against Florida in 1965. Before that it was 12 by Cotton Nash, Johnny Cox and Phil Grawemeyer.  His perfection from the charity stripe remains tied for first in single-game free throw shooting in UK history (Immanuel Quickly, and Ramel Bradley).  Dampier entered the tournament with an average of 24.6 points a game, good for second place in the SEC behind Alabama’s Mike Nordholz and 17th place nationally. He upped it to 24.8.  

“Pat Riley and bowed out the way we like to see them go.”  That was Kentucky Coach Adolph Rupp’s tribute to his senior forward / guard combination who played their final game March 6, 1967 as the Wildcats bombed Alabama, 110-78 to complete their season with a 13-13 record, the worst in Rupp’s 37-year career at Lexington.  Dampier scored 16 points in his finale.

“I’m satisfied with my career,” Dampier said of his four years at Kentucky, “but I wish we could have won a few more games.”

Dampier had played his final basketball game for Kentucky, but the 6-foot star had one more college game on his schedule.  Dampier, the hottest shooter at Kentucky in at least 20 years, was named to play in the annual East-West All-Star game.

During his three years at Kentucky (at the time, freshmen were ineligible to play varsity sports), Dampier was a two-time All-American and three-time All-Southeastern Conference selection. He was also named Academic All-SEC twice and Academic All-American once. Upon graduation from Kentucky in 1967, Dampier scored 1,575 points, at the time third-most in school history behind only Cotton Nash (1,770) and Alex Groza (1,744).  He was also a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.

Dan Issel once joked, “I don’t remember him ever taking a shot at Kentucky inside of what is now the collegiate 3-point line.”

On May 13, 1967, Dampier married his high school sweetheart, Martha “Marty” Claire Hibner, in Indianapolis. Both were king and queen of their high school prom in 1963.

In 1967, the Cincinnati Royals (now the Sacramento Kings) selected Dampier in the fourth round of the NBA Draft and the Kentucky Colonels selected him in the ABA draft.  On June 7, 1967, Dampier signed a 1-year contract with the Kentucky Colonels of the fledgling ABA for $12,000 and a sizeable bonus.

But Dampier missed the ABA’s inaugural training camp and pre-season practice with the Kentucky Colonels due to another obligation.

Before Dampier was set to begin his professional basketball, he volunteered to serve in a Kentucky National Guard unit based in Danville. After completing basic training at Fort Campbell with the 101st Airborne, Dampier was sent to Fort Knox for advanced individual training, which coincided with the beginning of the Colonels’ first season.

Dampier was allowed to play home games for the Colonels in Louisville but couldn’t travel with the team and missed road contests early in the season. Volunteering did allow Dampier to receive an exemption for the military draft and not lose two years from his basketball career.

He teamed with Darel Carrier to form the most explosive backcourt duo in the league. In each of the ABA’s first three seasons, both Dampier and Carrier averaged at least 20 points per game. Both were three-point field goal specialists (the ABA had used the three-point field goal from its inception), but especially Dampier who made 500 during a three-year stretch: a record 199 during the 1968–69 season, 198 in 1969–70 and 103 in 1970–71. At the conclusion of the ABA’s history, Dampier made a career-record 794 3-point field goals.

A 6-foot-tall guard, Dampier is one of only a handful of men to play all nine seasons in the American Basketball Association (ABA) (1967–1976), all with the Kentucky Colonels

He also finished first all-time in the ABA in games played (728), minutes played (27,770), points scored (13,726), and assists (4,044).  During the 1970–71 season, he hit 57 consecutive free throws for what was then a pro record (ABA or NBA). Seven times, he was named an ABA All-Star. He was a unanimous choice for the ABA Top 30 team.  He played on the Colonels’ 1975 ABA championship team, which featured a later Kentucky standout, Dan Issel, as well as 7’2″ center Artis Gilmore.

After the 1976 season, the ABA ceased operations with Kentucky and two other teams folding. Dampier was selected by the San Antonio Spurs (one of the four teams to join the NBA in the ABA–NBA merger) in the 1976 ABA Dispersal Draft. Playing mostly as a role player behind George Gervin, Dampier averaged 6.7 points in 232 NBA games.

Dampier later served as an assistant coach with the Denver Nuggets.

Several divisions in the 21st century semi-pro ABA were initially named after stars of the old ABA, including Dampier.

He remarried in 1983 to Judy L. Videtto.  

He was indicted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993.

Dampier was the first Indianapolis-born player enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in September 2015. 

“It couldn’t happen to a better human being,” said Darel Carrier, of Dampier’s Hall of Fame induction. Carrier played with Dampier on the Colonels.

And it couldn’t happen to a better basketball player.

A basketball superstar. That’s what Dampier always wanted to be, ever since those days as a little boy watching the Southport High School team with his mom.

And he became one.

Dampier lives in La Grange, Kentucky with his wife Judy.  He has two children, Danielle and Nick and one step-son, Rob.

College Statistics:

Per Game

SeasonGGSMPFGFGAFG%FTFTAFT%TRBASTSTLBLKTOVPFPTS
1964-6525  6.813.4.5123.44.0.8404.9    1.917.0
1965-6629 37.28.620.1.4283.94.7.8325.01.3   2.421.1
1966-6726 38.88.417.0.4943.84.6.8325.52.2   2.520.7
Career80 37.98.017.0.4703.74.5.8345.11.7   2.319.7
 

Totals

SeasonGGSMPFGFGAFG%FTFTAFT%TRBASTSTLBLKTOVPFPTS
1964-6525  171334.51284100.840123    48426
1965-6629 1079249582.428114137.83214437   69612
1966-6726 1008219443.49499119.83214257   66537
Career80 20876391359.470297356.83440994   1831575