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#KU50: 16 Bill Bridges

16 days until Kansas Basketball!


Pound for pound, Bill Bridges was the best rebounder in Kansas history. At just 6-6, Bridges currently ranks 4th in Kansas history in rebounds, and still has the Kansas record for rebounds in conference games. He averaged 13.9 rebounds per game over the course of his career, and nabbed those 1,081 rebounds in just three seasons.

Bridges made the All-Region team in the 1960 NCAA tournament when Kansas made the Elite 8, and was an All-American in 1961 when he averaged 16 points and 14 rebounds per game.

The one downside to Bridges’ game is he was woefully inefficient. He shot 43.7 percent from the floor as a senior, which was his career high. He shot just 38 percent in his first two seasons. He did, however, get to the free throw line quite a bit and shoot an OK 65 percent. It is worth noting players were, in general, less efficient in the ‘50s and ‘60s than they are today.

Although pro stats aren’t taken into account in this countdown, I did find it cool that Bridges is one of just four players in NBA history to grab at least 35 rebounds in a playoff game. The other three? Willis Reed, Bill Russell, and Wilt Chamberlain. Not bad.

Bridges was named All-Big 8 all three years on campus, and was an All-American as a senior. He’s also, as I mentioned, probably the best rebounder in Kansas history (although it is fair to point out there were more rebounds available in those days, by and large). I doubt we will see any 6-6 player averaging 14 rebounds per game for his career anytime soon, so maybe 14th would have been a more poetic spot, but 16th isn’t bad.