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Men’s Basketball

Irish legend and Ring of Honor inductee Bob Whitmore dies

| Friday, June 5, 2020

Bob Whitmore, Notre Dame basketball legend and Purcell Pavilion Ring of Honor inductee died May 23 at the age of 73, after a long battle with serious health issues for years. He suffered from seizures and pancreatic cancer.

In January 2019, Whitmore travelled to South Bend from his home in his hometown of Washington, D.C. to be inducted into the Purcell Pavilion Ring of Honor. In May, Whitmore began hospice care. 

“We have lost one of our great players, but also a great gentleman,” head basketball coach Mike Brey said. “Bob Whitmore laid a foundation for this program that is still being felt to this day. My thoughts and prayers go out to Bob’s family, friends and former teammates.”

When he arrived at Notre Dame in 1966, Whitmore was already regarded as a prep school legend. Whitmore led his DeMatha Stags to a 46-43 victory over Power Memorial (N.Y.) in what has been called one of the greatest high school hoops games ever played. Memorial was led by none other than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (known then as Lew Alcindor).

DeMatha Catholic High School would soon establish a strong relationship with Notre Dame. Mike Brey, associate head coach Rod Balanis and All-American Jerian Grant (2011-15) are all graduates of the Hyattsville, Maryland, school. 

Whitmore not only ended Power Memorial’s 71-game winning streak, but in his last two years with the Stags he finished with a 55-3 record, with the help of Stag head coach Morgan Wootten. 

For Notre Dame, Whitmore recorded 47 career double-doubles, the third most in school history; he notched six games with 20 points and 20 rebounds, which remains the most in program history. He is only one of six Irish players to pull down over 1,000 rebounds with 1,043. He ranks 12th in most career field goals made (609) and 15th in career scoring (1,508), which ranked third all time when he graduated. He still holds the program’s record for single same rebounds, when he pulled down 30 boards against St. Norbert’s on Dec. 14, 1967. 

Whitmore helped the Irish win 54 games over the course of three seasons. The Irish were able to advance to the semifinals of the National Invitational Tournament in 1968 and earn an NCAA tournament berth in 1969 with Whitmore’s help. Whitmore was drafted to both the NBA and ABA, and he eventually became a graduate assistant at Notre Dame, where he mentored future Hall of Famer and fellow Notre Dame Ring of Honor inductee Dantley.

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