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Former UK Men’s Basketball National Champion Bobby Watson Dies

OWENSBORO, Ky. – Bobby Watson, a key member of the Kentucky men’s basketball 1951 national championship team and the fifth 1,000-point scorer in program history, died on Tuesday, Jan. 31. He was 86.

Watson, originally a walk-on, earned a scholarship under legendary head coach Adolph Rupp and lettered in three seasons for the Wildcats from 1950-52.

A two-time All-Southeastern Conference First Team selection (1951 and 1952), Watson (pictured) averaged 10.4 points and 2.5 rebounds for UK’s 1951 national championship team.

In his final season, in 1951-52, he was named an All-American by Athletic Publications after averaging 13.2 points and 2.5 rebounds.

Watson played in 96 career games for the Wildcats and scored 1,001 points. He was the fifth player to join the prestigious 1,000-point club. He also played tennis for UK during the 1951-52 season.

Watson was selected by the Milwaukee Hawks in the 1952 NBA Draft and played one season with the Hawks during the 1954-55 season, but his career was cut short by injury.

A veteran of the United States Air Force, Watson served during the Korean Conflict.

Following his lone season in the NBA, Watson became the head coach of Owensboro High School in 1957, a position he held until 1980. Under Watson, Owensboro High School won 18 district championships, 14 regional championships and two state titles (1972 and 1980). He was later inducted into the Kentucky High School Athletic Hall of Fame, the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame, the Owensboro Hall of Fame, the Owensboro High School Hall of Achievement, the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame and the Owensboro Walk of Fame.

Survivors of Watson include his wife of 60 years, Diane Hunt Watson; his daughter, Shawn Watson Martin; and his son, Ted Watson.

UK Athletics Photo

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