Bobby Watson, the fifth 1,000-point career scorer in University of Kentucky basketball history and later a coach of state championship high school teams, died Tuesday. He was 86.
Watson was a teammate of Hall of Famer Cliff Hagan at Owensboro High School and then at UK.
Frank Ramsey, another UK teammate, recalled playing for Madisonville High against Owensboro High in the 1948 state tournament.
“They beat us 68-34,” Ramsey said Wednesday, “and that was my introduction to Bobby.”
Ramsey roomed with Watson at UK. “Kincaid Hall, room 305,” Ramsey said. “He was a real nice person. I don’t think he ever had an argument with anybody. He was very quiet and laughed and everything.”
However, Ramsey recalled when Watson’s temper flared when scolded by UK assistant coach Harry Lancaster.
“Why don’t you hit that (shot)?!” Lancaster said in an emphatic tone.
“Bobby fired back at him,” Ramsey said. “‘Don’t you think I’m trying to hit it?!’
“I was surprised. Everybody kind of stared at him. After that, his claim to fame was he told Harry Lancaster off. (pause) To hear him tell you.”
Watson, who played for Kentucky from 1949-50 through the 1951-52 seasons, scored 1,001 points in his college career. He averaged 10.4 points for UK’s 1951 national champions and 13.1 points as a senior captain the following season.
Joe B. Hall recalled Watson as a “very cool, cerebral-type guard. And he had that two-hand set shot. He put a lot of arch on it.”
Watson’s son, Ted, said his father remembered his UK days fondly. “Those were kind of the glory days,” Ted Watson said.
After UK, Watson served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean conflict. He played one season for the Minneapolis Lakers.
Watson became coach of Owensboro High School from 1957 until 1980. During that time, Owensboro won 14 regional championships and state championships in 1972 and 1980.
Survivors include his wife of 60 years, Diane Hunt Watson, a son and a daughter.
The funeral service for Watson will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the First Presbyterian Church in Owensboro. Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Glenn Funeral Home and Crematory.
Messages of condolence may be placed at www.glennfuneralhome.com.