By Mickey Furfari
For The Register-Herald
The legendary Hot Rod Hundley has paid tall tribute to his former West Virginia basketball teammate Clayce Kishbaugh, who has died at age 77.
“I have always said Clayce was the best player I ever played with in West Virginia,” Hundley said Wednesday from his home in Peora, Ariz. “He knew that because I’ve said it before.”
After playing a year on the freshman team, the two were standouts on the varsity team in 1955-56-57. Both were team captains as seniors.
Kishbaugh, who was born in Clarksburg and was an all-state star at Roosevelt Wilson High School, was a 6-foot-2, 180-pound guard at WVU.
“He really could shoot the ball,” recalled Hundley, who was a consensus All-America forward. “He had a two-handed set shot and a one-handed jumper.”
Kishbaugh also was a dogging defender.
Hot Rod continued, “Clayce could really run the floor and he could jump. He was smart, too. He just was very good on the court.”
In 77 games, Kishbaugh scored a grand total of 833 points for a three-year average of 10.8 points per game. He also had 287 rebounds and 48 assists.
Kishbaugh set a record in the 1955 Southern Conference Tournament with a perfect 18 for 18 free throws. That was a major factor in WVU’s ability to defeat nationally ranked George Washington for the title.
Hundley and the legendary Jerry West never played together at WVU. But they became teammates in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers in the early 1960s.
Kishbaugh helped the Mountaineers to 21-9, 25-5 and 25-5 records in the mid-1950s. They won three Southern Conference Tournaments and earned as many berths in the NCAA tournament under the late coach Fred Schaus.
Kishbaugh has been in failing health recently and died last Saturday night in Zanesville, Ohio, where he lived with wife Shirley for several years. They have one child.
Kishbaugh, who earned his bachelor degree from Salem College, was a high school teacher and later a principal in Zanesville.
He and Hundley have been close friends since leaving Morgantown.
Funeral services for Kishbaugh will be held in his native Clarksburg.
Friends will be received at the Davis-Weaver Funeral Home on Friday from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the funeral home.