BY RAUL GARCIA
McALLEN — Bruce “Sky” King was a “one and done” college basketball athlete before it was in vogue.
During his single season at the University of Texas at Pan-American his senior year, King went on to do great things on the court that would cement him in Broncs college basketball lore, becoming the spark that elevated the Broncs’ men’s basketball program to success in its following years.
On Saturday, King will be inducted into the UTRGV Athletics Hall of Fame.
The Athletics Hall of Fame and Hall of Honor induction luncheon starts at 11 a.m. in the UTRGV Ballroom.
Also being inducted as part of the 2020 class will be the 1989 women’s tennis team; Michel Fabry (men’s tennis); Paul Friddle (men’s basketball); Westly Keating (track and field, cross country); and Andre Rabouin (baseball). The committee also announced that award-winning sportswriter Pablo A. “Pikey” Rodriguez, Jr. has earned induction into the Hall of Honor.
At 6-foot-2, King was a star at shooting guard, carying the men’s basketball program during the 1973-74 season with his scoring prowess as the No. 2 leading scorer in the nation. He had the ability to take over games that electrified fans as he played above the rim, proving why he we was given his moniker, “Sky.”
“Those were the days when the (UTPA) Fieldhouse was packed,” 1973 Brownsville Herald sports editor Ronnie Zamorra said. “His name was ‘Sky.’ Everybody heard about him.”
King transferred from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi after its basketball program shut down.
Before he touched down in Edinburg, the team had heard stories about his shooting ability and the way he glided through the air and finished around the basket.
Unlike today’s “one and dones,” King left his mark on the game during a time when dunking was not allowed and the 3-point line didn’t exist.
“I remember running the offense with Bruce and getting him the ball in the split second when he was open,” Broncs teammate Jesus Guerra said. “I was trained well by coach Abe Lemons to get him the ball when he was open.”
Although the 1973-74 season ended with a 13-9 record, it didn’t stop King from shining.
King’s efficiency shooting earned him a 45% field goal average. He was shooting 78% from the line, pulling seven rebounds, three assists and netting 31 points per game for the Broncs.
King’s physical play allowed him to get to the line as many as 20 times in a game, the second-highest total in program history.
King earned an NCAA Division I Honorable Mention All-American nod during his lone season at Pan-American.
“He would lay it up and get over the rim. He could really put the ball in the basket,” Guerra said. “It seemed he had put hours and hours on the playground.”
King ranks second in a single-season scoring in program history, averaging 31 points per game.
King holds the Broncs’ fourth spot in the record book in free throws made with 167 in a single season. He’s fifth all-time in total points, sinking 681 points on 562 field goals attempts, and ninth in field goals made with 257 and 212 free throw attempts.
“He was our main scorer. He was unselfish and we knew he could score,” Guerra said. “We fed him the ball as much as possible. He had a quick stop and pop jump shot and jumped twice as high as his defender.”
King continues to hold three top 10 scoring records recorded in a single game with the second-, fourth- and ninth-highest single-game scoring totals in program history.
He dropped 55 points against Baptist for the No. 2 slot in points scored in a game in school history.
Against Tulsa, King poured in 49 points, and netted 44 points against Oral Roberts, respectively.
“He went off in those games,” Guerra said. “He was the centerpiece of our team that year. We set screens for him, passed him the ball and he did the rest.”
King ranks third in program history in field goals made and free throws made in a game with 20 and 17.
King is one of 18 players Broncs players to be drafted into the NBA. He was selected in the third round (46th overall) of the 1974 NBA Draft by the New Orleans Jazz.
King died on April 15, 2013, at the age of 60. He was originally from New York.
His college basketball teammate, Jesus Guerra, will be accepting the award on King’s behalf during the UTRGV Athletics Hall of Fame ceremony.
“He didn’t say much. He let his game do the talking,” Guerra said. “He didn’t get mad or super excited. He was a good person to all of his teammates. We were blessed he treated us with respect while we were in awe of his style of play that led us to a turnaround season.”