TULSA, Okla. –– One of the most decorated players in the history of The University of Tulsa basketball program, Bobby “Bingo” Smith (1965-69), will have his Golden Hurricane jersey “No. 32” retired this basketball season.
Smith will be honored with the retirement of his jersey as a part of “Legends Weekend”, when Tulsa hosts the SMU Mustangs on Saturday, February 22, at the Donald W. Reynolds Center.
Smith is the seventh Tulsa basketball student-athlete to have his jersey retired. He joins #12 Willie Biles, #20 Steve Harris, #21 Shea Seals, #24 Jim King, #25 Paul Pressey and #30 Bob Patterson.
“Bobby was a great outside shooter. He was a very humble guy and was very much a team player,” said Ken Hayes, who recruited and coached Smith at Tulsa. Hayes was an assistant coach at Tulsa and became the head coach for Smith’s senior season (1968-69).
“Over the years, I’ve been asked who’s the greatest player that I’ve ever coached. My response is that I can’t tell you because they all did different things, but I can say this – “the greatest athlete that I’ve ever been associated with was Bobby ‘Bingo’ Smith,” said Hayes.
In his first year at Tulsa, Smith averaged 17.3 points and 14.5 rebounds on the freshman team during the 1965-66 season. He scored at a 15.0 clip and pulled down 10.4 rebounds in his first season on the varsity squad, while averaging 13.1 points and 7.3 rebounds his junior campaign.
As a senior, Smith averaged a team-leading and Missouri Valley Conference high 24.5 points, while adding 10.3 rebounds per game. He earned second-team Associated Press and Converse Yearbook All-America honors his senior season of 1968-69. Smith was also recognized with first-team all-league honors and was named the MVC Player of the Year that season.
Smith completed his collegiate career with 1,368 points for a 17.8 scoring average and had a career .472 field goal percentage. In 77 career games, Smith also totaled 729 rebounds for a 9.5 average per game.
“Bobby was a very-gifted athlete all-around,” said Hayes. “Bobby’s stats would have been even more remarkable had we had the 3-point shot back in his era. That was his strength. He was a tremendous outside shooter and he took that talent to the NBA.”
Smith was nicknamed ‘Bingo’ by legendary Tulsa radio announcer Len Morton.
“When Bobby would shoot, Len would say ‘Bingo’ and that stuck with Bobby throughout his college and NBA career. “Our fans would know that he hit a long-range shot when they heard Len exclaim ‘Bingo’ over the radio,” Hayes added.
Smith went on to an 11-year career in the NBA. He was the sixth pick in the first round of the 1969 NBA draft by the San Diego Rockets, and a year later he was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1970 Expansion Draft.
In his first game with the Cavs, he scored 21 points. He helped contribute to the Cavaliers winning the NBA Central Division title in 1975 and was part of the Miracle in Richfield winning Game 2 of the Semifinals vs. the Washington Bullets.
In 11 professional seasons, Smith played in 865 games, logged 22,407 minutes and scored 10,882 career points. Smith was especially noted for his ability to hit jump shots from long range. His outside jump shots often were taken from today’s 3-point range. For his career, he recorded a .449 field goal percentage (4,776 FGs made out of 10,642 attempts), had a .798 free throw percentage (1,307-of-1,637) and accounted for 3,630 total rebounds and 1,734 assists.
Smith was inducted into The University of Tulsa Athletics Hall of Fame in 1984. He is also a member of the 2016 class of the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame. His number 7 was retired by the Cleveland Cavaliers on December 4, 1979.
A native of Memphis, Tenn., Smith was an outstanding prep athlete at Melrose High School, where he earned first-team All-America honors in basketball and was a third-team All-American in football.
Smith was drafted out of high school by the Pittsburgh Pirates as a pitcher and also had scholarship offers to play college football.