ST. BONAVENTURE, NY (WKBW/RELEASE) -- Former St. Bonaventure men’s basketball great and the program’s first-ever consensus All-American Tom Stith passed away on Sunday. He was 71.
A native of New York City, Stith led St. Bonaventure to a 65-12 record over his three seasons (58-61), three consecutive 20-win campaigns, two consecutive NIT appearances and the first-ever NCAA Tournament berth in 1961.
“We are deeply saddened with the passing of Tom Stith,” St. Bonaventure Director of Athletics Steve Watson said. “Tom was a first-class guy that helped put St. Bonaventure basketball on the national landscape. Even more important, Tom was passionate about his experiences at St. Bonaventure and a true ambassador of this University. We extend our profound condolences to his family in this time of loss.”
Tom teamed with his older brother Sam Stith over his first two seasons to form the most prolific scoring tandem in school history. The 1959-60 season saw Tom and Sam average a combined 52 points per game en route to leading the Brown and White to a 21-5 record, including 18 straight wins, and a fourth place finish in the NIT. Tom accounted for 31.5 points per game, a figure that still reigns supreme in the program’s single-season record books. In the NIT, Tom Stith averaged 28.5 points, never scoring below 25 points in each of the four contests. Following the magical season, Tom earned the first of his back-to-back All-American honors from the Associated Press.
With older brother Sam graduated, Tom took the reins of the 1960-61 club that began the season with wins in 21 of their first 22 games. Stith’s 830 points that season still rank as the top single-season total, as St. Bonaventure finished with a 24-4 record and made its first NCAA Tournament berth. Stith
For his career, Tom Stith scored a remarkable 2,052 points over just 76 games for a 27.0 scoring average. Stith graduated as the program’s all-time leading scorer, but now sits fourth all-time, but is just one of two players to score over 2,000 points over three seasons. Known for his scoring ability, Stith also ranks 11th all-time with 691 rebounds and averaged a double-double over his first two years. Stith’s 2,052 points came on 807 field goals and 438 free throws.
As good as Stith was in the regular season, the silky smooth guard posted equally impressive numbers in the postseason against the best competition the game had to offer. Stith averaged 24.8 points over five career NIT games and put together back-to-back-to-back 29-point outings against Rhode Island, Wake Forest and Princeton in the 1961 NCAA Tournament.
After graduation, Stith was drafted by his hometown New York Knicks and inducted into the St. Bonaventure Hall of Fame in 1969, as part of the inaugural class. Stith’s No. 42 is retired and currently hangs in the rafters of the Reilly Center.
Funeral arrangements are pending and will be announced soon.
Read more on this story here.