Legendary basketball player Bob Houbregs, who is one of greatest to play at the University of Washington, passed away Wednesday morning. He was 82.
Houbregs starred at Washington from 1949-53 where he led the Huskies to their only NCAA tournament Final Four appearance in 1953.
That season, the 6-foot-7 forward was a consensus All-American, the only player in Huskies history so honored. He guided UW to a 15-1 record in the Pacific Coast Conference and a 28-3 mark overall.
Behind Houbreg’s 45-point performance, the Huskies crushed Seattle University 92-70 in the first round. They toppled and Santa Clara 74-62 to advance to the Final Four. Houbregs fouled out early in the second half of the semifinals and the Huskies lost 79-53 to Kansas. The next game, he finished his college career with a 42-point performance that propelled Washington to an 88-69 win over Louisiana State in the third-place game.
Houbregs, who was considered a hook-shot specialist, set the UW season scoring record that season while averaging 25.6 points. He also tallied 49 points on Jan. 10, 1953, which is still a school record. He has the top three scoring games in UW history.
Houbregs accumulated 1,774 points during his UW career, which set the all-time scoring record that stood for 31 years. He ranks fifth on UW’s all-time scoring list, which is an impressive accomplishment considering freshman were not allowed to compete when he played.
He led Washington to PCC titles in 1951-53 and was selected to the all-conference team those years.
As a sophomore, Houbregs averaged 13.6 points and led UW to a 24-6 overall record and the NCAA tournament. He averaged 18.6 points as a junior and Washington was 25-6.
The Huskies retired his No. 25 jersey
“He was a special player,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. “But the thing that most impressed me with him was his humility and the person that he was. Boy, he was a really solid man.”
Houbregs was the third overall pick in the 1953 NBA draft and taken by the the Milwaukee Hawks. He played five years (1953-58) with four teams, including the Baltimore Bullets, Boston Celtics and Fort Wayne Pistons. His career NBA scoring average was 9.3 points.
After retiring, Houbregs returned to Seattle. He played a key role in helping establish the Sonics in the NBA franchise’s early days, serving as general manager from 1970 to 1973.
Born Robert John Houbregs on March 12, 1932 in Vancouver, Canada, he went to Queen Anne High in Seattle where he became a basketball star.
Houbregs was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1987. He’s also a member of the Husky Hall of Fame (1979) and the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame (2000).
In recent years, Houbregs had been a de facto historian of Washington basketball who recounted stories about the program’s heydays.
“He was kind of a connector between the old and the new,” Romar said.
Houbregs is the second UW icon to pass away in the past year. Former UW legendary coach Marv Harshman died last August.
“You talk about Washington basketball, the legends and the history and those are two that played big parts in the history,” Romar said. “They were nationally respected by many people. In Bob Houbregs case, he was done playing a long time ago, but you still respected him for who he was just as much as what he had accomplished. Marv was the same way.”