I’m not really sure how the world would react if a player racked up a triple-double in the NCAA championship game, but I’m pretty sure we’d be hearing about it for years to come and his highlights would be used in pre-tournament intros until the end of time. In fact, his accomplishment would be put on such a pedestal that other great championship game performances like the one Danny Manning put in for KU in 1988 would be looked at completely differently. The fact is, only seven players have ever recorded a triple-double in the NCAA tournament since blocks, steals, and assists were officially recorded as stats in the mid-1980’s and none have ever come in the Final Four. Kansas center B.H. Born recorded an unofficial triple-double in KU’s heartbreaking 69-68 loss to Indiana in the 1953 championship game when he totaled 26 points, 15 rebounds, and 13 blocks. Oh, and did I mention that he fouled out with over 5 minutes left in the game? Statistically and historically, it was quite an accomplishment.
B.H. Born would probably have to put on some weight if he were a player today. Not many guys that are 6’9" can get away with being 205 pounds, and according to reports, that 205 was even a tad inflated. Nevertheless, he patrolled the lane and helped guide Kansas to the 1952 NCAA championship and thoroughly dominated the 1953 NCAA championship game in a losing effort.
He was Clyde Lovellette’s back up for his 1951-52 sophomore season (1.7 PPG) and freshmen were ineligible to play back in those days, so he really only played significant minutes for two seasons at Kansas, but Born made the most of those two years. In the season that produced that epic title game statistical explosion, Born averaged 19.2 points and 11.2 rebounds per contest. It’s hard to imagine a guy capable of those numbers being patient enough to wait his turn to get playing time, but that’s exactly what Born did. After that 1952-53 season, Born was named to the All-NCAA tournament team, and despite the fact that his Jayhawks lost, he was named Most Outstanding Player in the tournament. His postseason honors also included first team All-Big Seven status.
During his senior season, he nearly replicated his stats from the previous year (18.9/9.6) and again was named to the All-Big Seven first team. In 1954, the Osawatomie native represented the United States at the FIBA World Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Born led the team in points in three of the nine games that the US won on their way to the gold medal.
Later that year, Born was drafted into the NBA by the Fort Wayne Pistons with the 22nd overall pick, but never played in the NBA, opting instead to play in the AAU ranks in Peoria, Illinois and eventually ended his career by going to work full time for the team’s sponsor, Caterpillar. Rumor has it that he helped recruit Wilt Chamberlain to Kansas from his post in Peoria. If this is true, Kansas fans owe a whole lot more to B.H. Born than we ever knew.