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Bill Blakeley

Bill Blakeley
File:Bill Blakeley.jpg
Bill Blakeley coaching North Texas Mean Green men's basketball (photo courtesy of UNT Athletics; photographer unknown; circa 1975-1983)
Sport(s) Basketball
Biographical details
Born (1934-06-13)June 13, 1934
Van Zandt County, Texas
Died October 27, 2010(2010-10-27) (aged 76)
Playing career
1955–1956 Abilene Christian
Position(s) Forward
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
St. Mark's School of Texas (assistant)
St. Mark's School of Texas
Christian College of the Southwest
Dallas Chaparrals
North Texas
Accomplishments and honors
Texas Sportswriters Association
College Coach of the Year for Winter Sports (1977)
Abilene Christian University
Sports Hall-of-Fame (1993)
University of North Texas
Athletic Hall-of-Fame (2002)

Billie Buie Blakeley (June 13, 1934 – October 27, 2010), also known as William and Billy, was an American basketball coach at the high school, college, and professional levels.

Coaching career

Intercollegiate basketball: NCAA Division I

1975-76 to 1982-83 — Head coach at the University of North Texas Mean Green Basketball

  • March 18, 1975, the sports media announced that Athletic Director Hayden Fry had named Blakeley as the new Head Coach for Men's Basketball at North Texas. The media reported it 10 days after Gene Robbins had resigned the position.[1][2]
  • With an overall 134-85 coaching record, as of 2010, Blakeley holds the third most wins and the fourth highest winning percentage of any men's basketball coach in North Texas history. None of five head coaches who have succeeded him (through 2010) have surpassed his overall winning percentage; though, Johnny Jones, the current head coach, surpassed his overall win record on December 31, 2009, with a win over the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Pete Shands (Henry Gilchrist Shands; b 1899; d 1983), who coached North Texas Men's Basketball from 1935 to 1959, has the most wins with 217 over 22 seasons.
  • Blakeley also holds the all-time North Texas record for reaching 100 wins the fastest,[3] reaching it in his 6th season (1980–81).
  • Blakelely coached three consecutive 20-win seasons: 1975-76 (22-4); 1976-77 (21-6); 1977-78 (22-6)
  • North Texas achieved its first and, as of 2010, only top 20 national ranking. The Associated Press Men's Basketball Poll ranked North Texas 20th on February 3, 1976,[4] and 20th on February 10, 1976.[5]
  • Blakeley established a tradition of draping a cloth sign on the back of his chair at court-side. During his first season, his sign read DON'T EXPECT MIRACLES. The next year it read WILL MIRACLES NEVER CEASE? Another year it read UNDER CONSTRUCTION.
  • When he was hired, he told the media that, to beat North Texas, opponents will have to score at least 90 points. In his first season, he proceeded to turn around a team that was 6-20 in 1975, to 22-4 in 1976, averaging 96 points a game, the second highest in the nation. But the Eagles were invited neither to the NCAA tournament nor the NIT. Frustrated over the politics involved in getting invited to the NCAA Tournament, Blakeley conceded the only concrete argument the NCAA held against North Texas was that six of its games from the 1975-76 season were with teams outside of Division I; so, for the 1976-77 season, Blakeley beefed-up the schedule by dropping all non-Division I teams.[6]
  • In November 1976, Sports Illustrated declared, "The Eagles can fly; there is not a player on the team who can't dunk." "Junior-college transfer Charles McMillian, a 6'3" forward with a 22.5-point average, can perform a 42-inch vertical jump."[7]
  • As of 2010, four players under Blakeley were among the North Texas Top 20 All-Time career scorers and the "North Texas 1000 Point Club."
  • In 1991, the NCAA published an article that nationally ranked the top 38 most improved year-over-year team records since 1974 (the first year the history was compiled). Two teams tied for the most improved at 16-1/2 games. The third most improved team, at 16 games, was North Texas during Blakeley's first season (1975–76), finishing with a 22-4 record, verses 6-20 from the previous year.[8] He accomplished his first-year feat with only one player added to the previous year's squad.[9] As of 2010, the 16-game year-over-year improvement stands as a North Texas record dating back to the 1957-58 season. Blakeley also holds the biggest drop in year-over-year season wins of minus 11 games: his fourth season (1978–79) with a record of 11-16.
  • Blakeley hired Jimmy Gales, who served as assistant coach from 1975-76 to 1982-83 and kept Billy Tubbs, who had been an assistant coach at North Texas since the 1973-74 season. After his first season coaching with Blakeley, Tubbs won the head coaching job at Lamar University (1976-77 year). Blakeley hired Jim Moffitt in March 1976 to replace Tubbs.[10] Gales went on to serve as the head coach of Mean Green basketball for seven seasons: 1986-87 to 1992-93. Gales' teams won a total of 84 games during his tenure as head coach, a total that ranks third-best in school history (as of 2010). Gales led the Mean Green men's team to its first ever NCAA Tournament in 1988. As of 2010, the Mean Green since advanced twice to the NCAA Tournament in 2007 and 2010, both under Head Coach Johnny Jones. Gales, like Blakeley, was induced into the North Texas Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009.
  • Blakeley and Gales might own the distinction of being the only North Texas Hall of Famers who were also fired by North Texas.[citation needed]
1000 Point Club During Blakeley's Tenure at North Texas
Rank (as of 2010) Years Player Career Points
1 1980-1983 Kenneth Lyons 2291
4 1975–1978 Fred Mitchell 1538
9 1975-1978 Melvin Davis 1306
15 1978–1979 Jon Manning 1090
† Lyons, as of 2010, holds the UNT record for most points in a game: 47 pts (vs. Louisiana Tech, Mar 10, 1983)
As of 2010, Lyons is one of few players NCAA history to have an excess of 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in a career
  • As an independent under Blakeley, North Texas had no conference tournament that entitled a winner an automatic berth to the NCAA Championships. North Texas had difficultly scheduling games with conference schools that did, including teams from the Southwest Conference, particularly nearby rival SMU, which, separated by 35 miles, offered strong attendance possibilities on a home-and-home basis. In 1976, Ken Wilson, then a sports writer for the Denton Record-Chronicle, surveyed schools from the Southwest, Big 8, Big Ten, and Southeastern Conferences and major independents. Most schools were not interested in scheduling North Texas basketball. They, according to Wilson, wanted giveaway games. North Texas, for the 1976 and 1977 seasons, was not a giveaway school. Wilson also inferred that SMU and TCU felt that they would gain little by beating North Texas, but might suffer in recruiting if they lost.
  • In the spring of 1977, a time when North Texas was vying for membership in the Southwest Conference, then SMU Coach Sonny Allen, expressed disinterest in scheduling North Texas, killing the basketball home-and-home series.[11]
  • SMU was also grappling with the likelihood of losing to a strong North Texas Football team coached by Hayden Fry, who SMU had fired and North Texas had hired in December 1972. After two close encounters with the Mean Green (7-6 in 1974 and 38-31 in 1976), SMU lost 24-13 in 1977, ending a 45-year drought. SMU Football Coach Ron Meyer told the press after that game, "Their athletic program, at least in football and basketball, can compare with anyone in the country." "I haven’t really considered North Texas being in the [Southwest] conference, because I don’t have a vote," Meyer continued, "but I would be concerned with having only three non-conference games."[12] Fry had resumed the football series with SMU in 1974. Until then, the teams had not met since 1942.
North Texas Game, Season, and Career Rebound Record as of 2010
Years Player Game Season Career
1974-75 1977-78 Ken Williams 29 (vs. Lamar, 1/18/78) 411 (1977-78) 1,095 (1974-78)
Williams led the nation in rebounding in 1977–78

Notable athletes who started for Blakeley but were recruited by Gene Robbin's during his tenure (year recruited)


Notable athletes recruited during Blakeley's tenure (year recruited)

  • Bill Nelson (1982–1983)
  • Mookie Smith, 6'2, F (1982–1983)
  • Greg Grissom, 6'10, C (1981–1982)
  • John Horrocks, 7'0, C (1981–1982)
  • Wayne "Pee Wee" Johnson, G (1981–1982)
  • Merritt Williams (1981–1982)
  • Javan Dupree, 6'4, F (1980–1981) Paschal
  • John Gales, 6'6, F (1980–1981) Trimble Tech
  • Div Hamlin, 6'5, F (1980–1981)
  • Fred McDade, 6'3, G (1980–1981) Denton HS
  • Delonte Taylor, 6'4, G (1980–1981) TCU, Washington DC
  • Pat Hicks, 6'2, PG (1979–1980) Madison HS, Houston
  • Kenneth Lyons, 6'7, SF (1979–1980) Trimble Tech
  • Tony Macalik, 6'7, SF (1979–1980) Skyline
  • Furmia Nealy, 6'1, PG (1979–1980) Dunbar
  • Michael Taylor, 6'3 (1979–1980)
  • Mike Guon, 6'6, SF (1978–1979)
  • Billy Hardaway (1978–1979)
  • Bernt Malion, 6'6, F (1978–1979)
  • David Vasher, 6'3, BG (1978–1979) Wilmer Hutchins
  • Al Williams (1978–1979)
  • James Gamble, 6'2, PG (1977–1978) Lincoln
  • Charles Gardner, 6'7, F (1977–1978) Searcy, AR
  • Jon Manning, 6'2, BG (1977–1978) OCU, Pontiac
  • David Adkisson, 6'7, C (1976–1977) Lake Dallas HS
  • Greg Boyd, 6'3, G (1976–1977) Denton HS
  • Danny Kaspar, 6'3, BG (1976–1977) King HS, Corpus Christi
  • Charles McMillian, 6'3, BG (1976–1977) Tyler JC, SOC
  • Ken Robinson, 6'8, C (1976–1977) North Lamar HS, Paris
  • Craig Smoak, 6'7, C (1976–1977) Brooklyn
  • Danny Wise, 6'6, F (1976–1977) Milby HS, Houston
  • Walter "Weasel" Johnson, 6'0, PG (1975–1976) McLennan CC, Milby
  • Waymond Lister, 6'3, BG (1975–1976) South Oak Cliff HS
  • Norvell Miles, 6'3, BG (1975–1976) Navarro College, SOC
  • Paul Teddar, 6'9, C (1975–1976) Richardson HS
Blakeley's Win-Loss Record at North Texas
Season Conference Wins Losses
1975-1976 Independent 22 4
1976–1977 Independent 21 6
1977-1978 Independent 22 6
1978–1979 Independent 11 16
1979-1980 Independent 13 14
1980–1981 Independent 15 12
1981-1982 Independent 15 12
1982–1983 Southland 15 15
Total 134 85

Intercollegiate basketball: NJCAA Division I

1967–1970 — Head Men's Basketball Coach Christian College of the Southwest Trojans

  • Blakeley's 1968 team (CCSW's first year of varsity basketball), which included standout athlete Joe Hamilton (who later played for the University of North Texas; and, as of 2010, is the 14th highest career scorer with 1092 points over only two seasons), won the NJCAA Region 5 Tournament, earning the NJCAA Division I team an invitation to the National JUCO Championship in Hutchinson, Kansas.
  • In recruiting, Blakeley talked Joe Hamilton out of Kentucky and "put his name in lights" [at CCSW].[13]
  • CCSW achieved a #1 ranking in the National Junior College Athletic Association poll during its 1970-71 season.
  • During his 6-year tenure, his teams never lost 2 games in a row.[14]
  • His overall win-loss record was 125-24.[15]
  • Due to financial stress, CCSW dropped basketball after its 1969-70 season.

Professional basketball: ABA

1970-1971 season — Head coach the Dallas Chaparrals — an American Basketball Association team (now the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA)

  • April 6, 1970 — The Dallas Chaparrals hired Blakeley, naming him Business Manager. The team also put him in charge of Player Relations and Recruiting, made him a designated assistant coach, and assistant to General Manager Max Williams.
  • November 1970 — Williams resigned as coach and Bill Blakeley is named as his replacement
Preceded by
Max Williams
Texas Chaparrals head coach
Succeeded by
Tom Nissalke

Interscholastic sports: High School

1957–1958 — Assistant high school basketball coach at St. Mark's of Texas 1958–1966 — Head high school basketball coach at St. Mark's of Texas

  • Blakeley won four State Championships
  • Blakeley also was head tennis coach compiling an unprecedented record of 203-2 over 9 seasons.
Blakeley's Win-Loss Record at St. Mark's of Texas as Assistant Basketball Coach (Mose Hale, Head)
Season Conference Wins Losses
1957–1958 Southwest Prep Conference 17 9
Blakeley's Win-Loss Record at St. Mark's of Texas as Head Basketball Coach
Season Conference Wins Losses
1958–1959 Southwest Prep Conference 21 9
1959-1960 Southwest Prep Conference 24 9
1960–1961 Southwest Prep Conference 22 15
1961-1962 Southwest Prep Conference 30 7
1962–1963 Southwest Prep Conference 18 19
1963-1964 Southwest Prep Conference 23 11
1964–1965 Southwest Prep Conference 27 9
1965–1966 Southwest Prep Conference 33 1
Total (as head coach) 198 80

1956–1957 — Head basketball coach for most of the season at Blackwell High School

  • Blakeley resigned January 18, 1957.[16]

Post coaching career: player agent

In 1984 Blakeley stepped out of coaching after 31 years and was named President of Talent Sports International Inc. (the firm is inactive), a sports agency founded in 1984 by his son, Robin Buie Blakeley.


It's quite an honor; but it's an honor that was won by the men on the
North Texas basketball team. They're the ones who had the successful
season. I never scored a point all season. They never even let me
shoot a free throw ... I'd trade it for a bid to the NCAA Playoffs.

Bill Blakeley — commenting on his award, July 17, 1976[19]


When you play in the H.O.T. Coliseum and dribble the ball, there's only
a 50-50 chance it will bounce back up to you." "It's so dark in the place,
the players need to wear those miner caps with lights on 'em"

Bill Blakeley — two separate comments on
Baylor's Heart of Texas Coliseum
(some coaches really hated to play there)

Born to John (Jack) Buie Blakeley and Levi Lucile Blakeley (née Williams), Bill Blakeley married Rosemary Harlow (b 1935) in Dallas, Texas, on September 2, 1955, during his senior year (her junior year)[22] while both attending Abilene Christian University. Blakeley is a graduate of A&M Consolidated High School in College Station, Texas, and had attended two years at Allen Military Academy in Bryan, Texas.[23] Bill and Rosemary have three children:

  1. Robin Buie Blakeley (b. 1956, Dallas County, Texas)
  2. Julie Rose Blakeley (b. 1958, Dallas County, Texas), now married to William Steven Cannon
  3. Jeffrey Buie Blakeley (b. 1961, Dallas County, Texas)


  1. ^ Blakeley Named New Coach, The Denton Record-Chronicle, pps. 1A and 1C, March 18, 1975
  2. ^ James Lloyd Rogers (1926-2006), The story of North Texas: from Texas Normal College, 1890, to the University of North Texas, pg. 478, University of North Texas Press (©2002)
  3. ^ Mean Green Men's Basketball Game Notes: North Texas vs. Rice, pg. 7, Dec. 5, 2009, published by Mean Green Athletics
  4. ^ NT Rated 20th by AP Pollsters, The Denton Record-Chronicle, Sec. B, pg. 1, Feb 3, 1976
  5. ^ College Poll Archive
  6. ^ North Texas Not Begging for Miracles, Corpus Christi Times, Jan. 18, 1977
  7. ^ The Best of the Rest: Five to Watch, Sports Illustrated, November 29, 1976
  8. ^ James M. Van Valkenburg, NCAA Director of Statistics, Basketball Notes, The NCAA News, pg. 5, Feb 6, 1991
  9. ^ James Lloyd Rogers (1926-2006), The story of North Texas: from Texas Normal College, 1890, to the University of North Texas, pg. 478, University of North Texas Press (©2002)
  10. ^ Jim Moffitt to Replace Billy Tubbs, The Denton Record-Chronicle, Sec. B, pg. 1, March 2, 1976
  11. ^ Ken Wilson, Eagles Victory Rekindles Conference Prospects, The Denton Record-Chronicle, Jan 19, 1977
  12. ^ Art Chapman, "NT-SMU to End It All’’, The Denton Record-Chronicle, Sept 20, 1977
  13. ^ Once Considered for NT Post, Blakeley Joins Dallas Chaparrals Staff, The Denton Record-Chronicle, pg. 8, April 7, 1970
  14. ^ Blakeley New North Texas Cage Coach, Las Cruces Sun-News, col. 7, pg. 9, March 18, 1975
  15. ^ North Texas to Hire ACC-Ex?, Abilene Reporter-News, Sec. C, pg. 1, March 18, 1975
  16. ^ Coach Quits at Blackwell, Abilene Reporter-News, col. 5, pg. 7-A, Jan. 18, 1957
  17. ^ Tommy Hart, Looking 'em over,' Big Spring Daily Herald, pg. 2B, Aug 8, 1971
  18. ^ Al Pickett, Former Cooper Great Has an Agent Now, Abilene Reporter-News</u>, March 24, 1998
  19. ^ Blakeley Gets Second Coaching Honor, The Denton Record-Chronicle, Sec. C, pg 1, July 18, 1976
  20. ^ Blakeley Gets Second Coaching Honor, The Denton Record-Chronicle</u>, Sec. C, pg 1, July 18, 1976
  21. ^ Blakeley Receives Honors, The Denton Record-Chronicle, March 9, 1977
  22. ^ ACC Students Plan September Wedding, Abilene Reporter-News</u>, Sec A, cols. 4 & 5, pg. 4, July 8, 1955
  23. ^ Honeymoon in Oklahoma: Abilene College Students Wed in Dallas, Abilene Reporter-News, Sec C, Pg. 2, Sep 4, 1955

External links