Basketball is right around the corner and if you haven’t noticed, the Bears look like they’re gonna be pretty darn good. Since we can’t wait for the new season to start, we decided to take a look back at the best Bears players of all time. After giving it some thought, we decided to get some expert opinions on the matter. We reached out to local sports writers to get their all-time starting lineup of Bears basketball players. We asked them to pick a center, two forwards and two guards. Let’s see what they think! And of course, please share your all time starting 5 in the comments on Facebook!
About the writer
If you’ve heard a Bears broadcast in the past 40 years or so, you’ve definitely heard Hains calling the action. He’s the official voice of the Missouri State Bears and he’s a local radio host as well. His show on the Jock, 98.7 covers all the Springfield sports and answers the questions of listeners regularly.
Curtis Perry – Still all-time leading rebounder and #3 scorer in school history. Played 9 years in the NBA, twice in the finals, and nearly averaged a double-double in his NBA career. Bears jersey retired.
Daryel Garrison – Still all-time leading scorer in school history, averaged 18.5 for his career. Led Bears to 1974 D2 finals. Jersey retired.
Winston Garland – Only 2 years, but they were great years. First two D1 post-season berths, with 3 victories, including first NCAA win over Clemson in ’87. Averaged 18.9, second best in school history. Facilitated offense and made big shots at the end of games. Jersey retired.
Kyle Weems – Now second-leading scorer in school history, tied for 4th in rebounds. Bears only winner of Larry Bird Award for MVC most outstanding, leading Bears to 2011 league championship.
Danny Moore – Sweet-shooting big man on 1999 Sweet 16 team. Top 3-year scorer in school history, with 17.3 average.
Sixth would be Mike Robinson, top career scoring average in program history(22.2) in 1979-80 and averaged 12.5 rebounds. Honorable mention to Blake Ahearn, Danny Bolden, Johnny Murdock, Jimmie Dull & Kevin Ault.
About the writer
Scranton was the News-Leader’s Missouri State Bears beat writer from 1989 to 2015 and he’s covered pretty much every sport in existence in his career. Now he hosts a sports radio show in the area called Tailgate Guys. Scranton was inducted into the Springfield Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2017 for his writing.
Center – Curtis Perry (1966-1970). Voted the school’s top player in a 2009 News-Leader survey of all-time best players, Perry was dominant in the post from 1966-70 leading the Bears to a pair of D-II National Tourney runner-up finishes. Perry averaged 17.5 points and 13.6 rebounds. Blocked shots weren’t kept as a statistic back then, but he swatted his share. The 35th pick in the 1970 NBA draft went on to play eight seasons in the NBA.
Power forward – Danny Moore (1996-1999). The centerpiece of the Bears’ 1999 Sweet 16 team, Moore is all over the school’s record book despite playing just three years after transferring from Miami (Ohio). Often double-teamed and seemingly under-appreciated at the time, Moore is sixth in points scored, first in free throws made and attempted and first in blocked shots in Bears’ history. Hopefully, Missouri State soon will do the right thing and retire his jersey No. 32.
Small forward – Kyle Weems (2008-2012). The only Bear to ever earn Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year honors (in 2011, when MSU won its only MVC regular-season championship). The second-leading scorer in school history, Weems was a modern-era “stretch four” – a bigger forward who could score both from the post and the 3-point line. And you need someone to conduct post-game interviews and interact with fans. Weems was one of the best.
Shooting guard – Danny Bolden (1963-67). Arguably the best player to come out of Springfield, the Central High graduate could do it all on the court, finishing his Bears’ career by averaging a double-double (17.4 points and 11.4 rebounds). The 6-foot-4 Bolden told me in a 2010 interview, prior to his induction into the Springfield Area Sports Hall of Fame, that he turned down offers to go to bigger schools and was glad he stayed home for college.
Point guard – Winston Garland (1985-87). Scoring, passing, defending, leading … Winston Garland could do it all. And he often did during his two seasons in a Bears uniform when he led the program to its first postseason appearances in the D-I era (1986 NIT quarterfinals and 1987 NCAA second round). Garland averaged 18.9 points, 4.4 assists and 2.1 steals. But beyond the numbers, he was the transformational player that elevated the program before playing seven seasons in the NBA.
And he named another 5 (just for fun)
Center – Kelby Stuckey (won more games than any other Bear, 87)
Power forward – Mike Robinson (averages 22.2 points and 12.5 in two-year career)
Small forward & 6th man – Daryel Garrison (the Bears’ all-time leading scorer would be instant offense off the bench)
Shooting guard – Blake Ahearn (best free-throw shooter in NCAA history)
Point guard – Arnold “A-Train” Bernard (7.2 assist average remains best in school history)
Wyatt Wheeler is a sports reporter for the Springfield News-Leader. He’s relatively new to the paper, but his reputation started at Missouri State’s student newspaper The Standard. He’s a great follow on Twitter, too!
Guard – Winston Garland (1985-87)
The highest drafted player in program history and there’s good reason for it. Garland finished his career eighth in scoring average with 21.2 points per game, while also finishing at the top in 3-point field goal percentage. He also showed he’s willing to give up the ball by finishing with 4.4 assists per game, tied for the sixth most in program history.
Guard- Blake Ahearn
Every team needs someone as reliable as Blake Ahearn. The best 3-point shooter in program history also ended his career with the top four free throw percentages by season. With the game on the line, he can be depended on for the big shots at the line or beyond the arc.
Forward- Kyle Weems (2008-12)
At 6-foot-6, this forward was able to stretch the floor and was athletic enough to take it to the basket. Weems finished with the fourth most 3-pointers in school history and also played some pretty good defense. He finished with the fifth most steals and the fifth most blocked shots.
Forward- Alize Johnson
That’s right. He’s already on this list. Alize Johnson has the potential to be one of the greatest athletes to come through the school, even though this will be his second and final year at MSU. Johnson can do it all as he can run some point forward and shoot from anywhere. This guy is fun to watch.
Center- Danny Moore (1996-99)
At 6-foot-11, Moore is another versatile player who makes this team as versatile as they come. Moore is another guy who can stretch the floor, while being a threat inside. He finished his career with the most blocked shots in Missouri State history. He also led the Bears to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, so he knows a thing or two about winning.
About the writer
Jim is the sports editor at the Branson Tri-Lakes News. There are few people with more experience in the Ozarks sports scene than Jim Connell.
Winston Garland (1985-87): Garland played the starring role in leading coach Charlie Spoonhour’s Bears into national prominence as a mid-major power in the mid-1980s. After transferring from Southeastern (Iowa) Community College, Garland led the Bears in scoring twice and scored 720 points as a senior – still the single-season school record. He made 50.4 percent of his 3-point shots as a junior and led the Bears to a 54-14 record in his two years. The Bears won two NIT games in Garland’s junior season, then collected their first-ever NCAA Tournament victory in his senior year, beating Clemson before throwing a huge scare into Kansas before falling short. If you’re putting together a Mount Rushmore of Bears basketball, Garland is the first place you’d turn.
Curtis Perry (1966-70): After joining a loaded team for coach Bill Thomas in 1966, Perry staked his claim to a starting spot, beginning arguably the greatest four-year career in school history. He ranks No. 3 in career scoring, No. 1 in career rebounding (by an astounding 291 rebounds over No. 2) and No. 2 in career 20-point games. Perry was on the team that reached the Division II national title game as a freshman (freshmen weren’t eligible to play in the national tournament), then led the Bears to the NCAA Tournament the next three seasons. The Bears were again runners-up at the national tournament in Perry’s junior season. He helped the team rattle off winning streaks of 28 consecutive conference games and 23 consecutive conference home games. The Bears were 83-27 during Perry’s playing career.
Daryel Garrison (1971-75): Garrison’s career with the Bears was the very definition of consistency and dominance. He was a four-year starter who played on two conference championship teams and one national runner-up squad. He holds career school records for points (1,975), 20-point games (46), field goals (830) and field goal attempts (1,755). His 97 games scoring in double figures rank second in school history. Garrison was a pure scorer who took over games even with opposing defenses geared up to stop him. He would be a force playing in any generation.
Danny Moore (1996-99): Moore does not get nearly the respect and credit he is due for the work he turned in for the Steve Alford-coached Bears of the late-1990s. Without Moore and his steady, dominant contributions, the biggest highlight of the school’s Division I era – the Sweet 16 trip of 1999 – does not happen. Moore transferred to Missouri State for his sophomore season, and led the Bears in scoring and rebounding for the next three seasons. He ranks No. 6 in career scoring and No. 1 in blocked shots. If he was here all four years, he’d likely be the school’s all-time scoring leader.
Kyle Weems (2008-12): Weems has all the numbers you’d expect from a player on the Bears’ all-time starting five. He’s No. 2 on the career scoring list, No. 1 on games played, No. 1 with 110 games scoring in double figures and is tied for fourth in career rebounds. But the biggest reason he belongs here has nothing to do with the numbers. Weems is a winner, and someone who makes every player on the team better. He’s still a big-time ambassador for Bears’ basketball, and his jersey will be in the JQH Arena rafters one day – hopefully soon.
About the writer
Guy Newcomb is the voice of high school sports in the Ozarks. He’s got a radio show on the ESPN affiliate in Springfield, which he does from his car during football season! He has an amazing story that you can learn more about right here!
Danny Bolden 1963-67
About the writer
Scott was a long-time News-Leader sportswriter and local sports talk radio personality. He now works with OnMedia as a sales representative.
His Starting 5