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What Ever Happened to?

Small-Town Hoopster's Big Score Still Lives On?

Bob Higham of Santa Rosa, Calif., asks "Whatever Happened to Bevo Francis, small-college basketball star of the early '50s"?

In 1953, a team of small-town upstarts from Rio Grande University in Rio Grande, Ohio, shook up the basketball world. Led by a 6 ft., 9 in. freshman named Clarence "Bevo" Francis, they beat team after top-division team to arrive at the pinnacle of their sport: a tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Though his name is forgotten by some, the record books remember him well. That season Francis scored 113 points in a Jan. 9, 1953, game against Ashland (Ky.) Junior College. To this day Mr. Francis holds the record for most points scored in one NCAA Division II basketball game - and experts say the record may well be an all-time high at any level.

"He was just a scoring phenom," says Wayne Patterson, a researcher at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

When a deal to play on the team that opposed the Harlem Globetrotters fell through, he left basketball for good, according to Mr. Patterson.

Francis, who now lives in Salineville, Ohio, is a retired steel and plastic mill worker. He couldn't be reached for comment.

"He's out [rac]coon hunting," explains his daughter, Marge Grimm.

His 15 minutes of fame are long over, but his glory lives on at Rio Grande, a university of 3,800 students. Every November, the university holds the annual Bevo Francis Invitational, where Francis himself makes an appearance. This year is particularly special: His granddaughter, Sarah, heir to the family talent, is playing for the Rio Grande women's team.

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