At a school already known for producing sports legends, yet another one is about to be recognized.
Bob Whitmore, who played basketball for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish from 1966 to 1969 and helped to start a pipeline of players from the Washington D.C. metropolitan area will be inducted into the Purcell Pavilion Ring of Honor Saturday during a halftime ceremony when the Boston College Eagles come to South Bend. Tipoff for the ACC contest is at noon.
Whitmore was a 6-7 center out of DeMatha High School (Hyattsville, Maryland) when he arrived on the Notre Dame campus in 1965.
He became a prep basketball legend after leading the DeMatha Stags to a 46-43 win over Power Memorial at the University of Maryland’s Cole Field House on Jan. 30, 1965. Power Memorial was led by 7-1 center Lew Alcindor (later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). The victory ended Power Memorial’s 71-game winning streak and extended DeMatha’s 29-game winning streak.
The matchup was so anticipated, the 12,000-seat field house sold out three weeks in advance of the game according to an article in the Hyattsville Community Newspaper on March 11, 2015, in honor of the game’s 50th anniversary.
Whitmore and DeMatha teammate Sid Catlett, who followed Whitmore to Notre Dame, were key components for the Stags having a 55-3 record in Whitmore’s final two seasons for legendary DeMatha coach Morgan Wootten.
The Washington D.C. metropolitan area has sent 15 players to ND who have accounted for more than 17.800 points, 6,800 rebounds and 2,200 assists according to a story on the Notre Dame web site.
In addition to Catlett, Whitmore influenced future Irish legends Austin Carr, Adrian Dantley, Collis Jones and Don Williams into coming to Sough Bend to play for the Irish.
“Whitmore played a big role in jump starting the D.C. pipeline when he was an assistant to coach Digger Phelps,” said current Irish coach Mike Brey about Whitmore following last Saturday’s game with the Syracuse Orange. “He knew the university and the community. He was a big mentor to Dantley and John Shumate.”
The pipeline continues to this day as current Irish sophomore D.J. Harvey is a DeMatha graduate and freshman Prentiss Hubb is from the D.C. area.
“Whitmore is special to me since I am a DeMatha guy. He is one of the classiest players we have ever had here,” the coach added.
Brey is a 1977 DeMatha graduate. He lettered two years for Wooten. The Stags were 55-9 during his two seasons. After graduating from George Washington University in 1982, Brey returned to DeMatha as an assistant coach for Wootten. Brey moved on to the college ranks in 1987 as an assistant at Duke University to Mike Krzyzewski. He took over as head coach at the University of Delaware in 1995 and in five season guided the Fightin’ Blue Hens to a 99-51 record, two American East Conference Championships and two appearances in the NCCA Tournament.
Notre Dame hired him in 2000.
Among Whitmore’s highlights at Notre Dame were a 43-point game against Butler in 1967, six 20-point, 20-rebound efforts (still the most ever by an Irish player) and a school-record 30 rebounds in a contest with St. Norbert;s on Dec. 14, 1967. He had a total of 47 double-doubles in his career and is one of only six ND players to have over 1,000 career rebounds. He finished with 1,043 in three seasons, since freshmen were not eligible when he played.
The Irish won 54 games during his three seasons with a trip to the National Invitational Tournament in 1968 and a berth in the NCAA Tournament in 1969.
The Ring of Honor was established in 2010 by the University of Notre Dame Athletics Department to honor former and present men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball coaches and players who have made distinguished and noteworthy contributions during their careers at the University.
Among the previous honorees in men’s basketball are Carr, Dantley, Phelps, Luke Harangody, Tom Hawkins and Troy Murphy. Ruth Riley, Skylar Diggins-Smith, Niele Ivey, Beth (Morgan) Cunningham and Kayla McBride are inductees from women’s basketball.
“We got started late on this Ring of Honor. We are really just getting going so there is always talk about who is going to be the next inductee,” Brey said. “Once we announce a name we receive calls and emails, yes, they deserve the honor but what about this player or what about that player.”
Greg Keim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-533-2151, ext. 326. Follow Greg on Twitter @gkeim_TGN