The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

June 5, 2014

Jerry West lauds 3 WVU teammates and Coach George King

MORGANTOWN — West paid tall tribute to former West Virginia University basketball teammate, the late Bob Clousson, during a phone interview several days ago.

A native of Clarksburg, W.Va., Clousson died unexpectedly on April 24, 2014, in Florida, where he and his wife resided since 1999. He had taught and coached high school basketball for 45 years, all but seven in Ohio.

As a much smaller than usual collegiate center, the 6-foot-5, 195-pound Clousson lettered at WVU in 1957-58-59. He was the starting center and helped the Mountaineers to a 29-5 record and the Southern Conference championship.

That team of 1958-59 also lost by just 71-70 to California in the battle for the NCAA national championship.

“I was travelling a lot when Bob Clousson died,” West recalled. “I was very saddened when I eventually heard the sad news.

“He was just a great person. He was just a wonderful teammate. He wasn’t nearly as big as most collegiate centers, but he was strong and very competitive.

“And he was able to do some things for us to be able to win.”

For the uninformed, let’s pause briefly to point out no one in WVU basketball history could do more than Jerry West from that three-year period of 1957-58, 1958-59, and 1959-60.

He set 17 records, many of which still stand, and made by far more All-American first teams than any other Mountaineer cager in school history.

Now let’s get back to West’s recollections of the popular Bob Clousson.

“I don’t really talk much about basketball players,” West said. “But Clousson knew he was going to have to play center at the collegiate level.

“But I think the biggest thing about Bob Clousson was what an incredible person he was. He was as nice as he could be.

“A great personality. Fun inside of a crowd. More importantly, Bob was someone who had a smile on his face when you saw him.

 “He was just a great, great guy.”

Clousson played in 88 games, including 29 starts when taking over in 1958-59 from All-American Lloyd Sharrar. He made 147 of 308 field goals, 141 of 218 free throws, for 435 points.

He also grabbed 280 rebounds and had 43 assists.

West also was asked about two of his other Mountaineer teammates on the 1959 club, senior starting guards Joedy Gardner and Don Vincent.

“Don Vincent was a fantastic guy. Very quiet.  Stayed down there on Beechurst Ave. (where Jerry and others lived) and a very fine player.

“As for Joedy Gardner, he also was a very good player. He had a great mind to play the game. Somebody who had a nice career at WVU.

“I see him every once in awhile and also Don Vincent every once in awhile. Both are just nice guys!”

West did not know that Gardner broke his neck in a mishap several months ago. He was told that Gardner has done well in the rehab and can drive again.

In this interview, Jerry West saw fit to pay tribute to the late George King. King became the first full-time assistant to Coach Fred Schaus in 1958-59.

“George King was really important to me (as a player),” West said. “He was someone I learned a lot from. He had just come out of the professional ranks.

“We played against each other all the time in (WVU) practice every day.  I think he probably helped me the most to compete against him successfully and some of the things I learned from him.

“I just felt it was a huge learning step for me.”

West went on to star 14 years in the NBA.

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