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 'Hoops Brown v. Board of Ed.'
The Tony Kornheiser Show: Heat coach Pat Riley remembers facing Bobby Joe Hill in the Texas Western-Kentucky final.

 Remembering a pioneer
GameDay: Larry Conley, now an ESPN announcer, remembers facing Bobby Joe Hill's Texas Western team in the 1966 NCAA title game.

Monday, December 16, 2002
Hill led Texas Western to historic NCAA title
Associated Press

EL PASO, Texas -- Bobby Joe Hill, the leading scorer for the Texas Western team that won the 1966 national championship and changed the landscape of college basketball, has died. He was 59.

Hill died of a heart attack Dec. 8, his daughter Michelle Shetfield told the online edition of the El Paso Times.

Coach Don Haskins started Hill and four other black players in that NCAA championship game against top-ranked Kentucky. Texas Western, now known as Texas-El Paso, beat Kentucky, which started five white players, 72-65.

The victory was credited with opening the doors of universities across the nation to black athletes.

''I am deeply, deeply saddened by the death of Bobby Joe Hill,'' Haskins said, ''Bobby Joe was the greatest leader, the greatest competitor I have ever had.''

The 5-foot-10 Hill, one of three guards who started for the Miners that night in College Park, Md., finished with 20 points.

Haskins said he wasn't trying to make a social statement with his lineup; he was simply starting his best players. The move, however, raised the ire of some who sent Haskins hate mail and even death threats during the racially charged era.

Hill had steals on consecutive possessions in the first half against Kentucky and made a layup off each.

Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp later said those steals were the turning point of the game.

Nevil Shed, the Texas Western center who was Hill's roommate when the team was on the road, said Hill would always fire him up for games.

''Bobby Joe, he was the steering wheel to our Mack truck. He was our leader. He was a warrior,'' Shed said. ''Besides that he was a good man.''

Shed said Hill was part of a team that had a unique closeness. Many of the players traveled to El Paso in February for a reunion.

Teammate Harry Flournoy said Hill was a modest man.

''He won't tell you how good he was, but he wouldn't mind showing you how good he was,'' Flournoy said. ''Bobby had an intensity about him that made him win.''

After basketball, Hill worked for El Paso Natural Gas Co. for many years before retiring in El Paso.

''What he and his teammates accomplished speaks for itself,'' said Haskins, who retired in 1999 after 38 seasons at Texas-El Paso and is in the Hall of Fame.

Funeral services were pending on Dec. 9.

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