College basketball lost one of the sport’s all-time great scorers, as Clarence ‘Bevo’ Francis died on Wednesday.
He was 82 years old.
“The Rio family has suffered a great loss. Bevo will be truly missed,” said Jeff Lanham, the Director of Athletics at the University of Rio Grande. “Bevo was a great individual scorer, but he never failed to say that he couldn’t have scored a point if it weren’t for the fact that he had great teammates. He was always concerned about how Rio was doing and was a fantastic supporter for 60-plus years.”
Bevo played two seasons for what was then known as Rio Grande College, located in Ohio. In his first year, he averaged 50.1 points and set a record by scoring 116 points in a win over Ashland Junior College. That record was eventually pulled from the record books — only games against four-year schools counted — but the following season, Bevo scored 113 points in a game against Hillsdale College in Michigan. That record stood until Jack Taylor of Grinnell scored 138 points in a game in 2012.
In his second season with the then-Redmen, Bevo was enough of a celebrity that his coach took the Rio Grande program on a barnstorming tour that included trips to Villanova, Providence, Miami-Fla., North Carolina State, Wake Forest and Creighton. Rio Grande also played in both Madison Square Garden and the Boston Garden. The money that the program received for those games helped keep the college out of financial ruin.
To get an idea of just how big of a deal Bevo was back then, read this story from The Milwaukee Journal: Creighton actually postponed their game against Rio Grande after he was injured, giving the star scorer a chance to get healthy. He scored 41 points in a loss to the Bluejays.