ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan athletics director Bill Martin has announced that the U-M men's basketball program will posthumously honor NCAA All-American Bill Buntin (1963-65) by retiring his jersey, No. 22, in a halftime ceremony during the Wolverines' Jan. 7, 2006, Big Ten Conference opener against Purdue.
Buntin becomes the fifth player in Michigan history to have his jersey to hang in the Crisler Arena rafters, joining Cazzie Russell
(1964-66), whose jersey was retired Dec. 11, 1993; Rudy Tomjanovich
(1967-70), whose jersey was retired Feb. 8, 2003; Phil Hubbard
(1975-79), whose jersey was retired Jan. 11, 2004 and Glen Rice
(1986-89), whose jersey was retired Feb. 20, 2005.
"We are very excited and pleased to be able to recognize what Bill Buntin meant to Michigan Basketball," said Martin. "Before his untimely passing, Bill helped put Michigan back on the college basketball map and we are humbled to have his jersey hang in the rafters."
"We are honored to have an opportunity to recognize and remember what Bill Buntin meant to Michigan," said U-M coach Tommy Amaker. "This honor is truly deserved and wonderful for Bill and his family, and we are proud to hang his No. 22 with the other Michigan honored jerseys."
After coming to Michigan as a sophomore, Buntin burst onto the college basketball scene in 1962, averaging 22.2 points and 15.7 rebounds while earning All-Big Ten first team and Michigan Most Valuable Player honors. He followed with an even better junior year, averaging 23.2 points and 12.5 rebounds en route to being named an All-Big Ten first team selection and a 1964 NCAA All-American. He carried the Wolverines to their first Big Ten Championship in 16 seasons and to the NCAA Final Four.
Buntin held U-M records for career points and rebounds at the end of his three years.
Buntin paired with All-American forward Cazzie Russell to form one of the best basketball duos in Michigan history. The duo of Buntin and Russell helped lead the Wolverines to the 1964 Final Four in Michigan's second-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament.
After Michigan's first Final Four appearance, Buntin entered his senior year with high hopes of repeated success. He did not disappoint, guiding the 1964-65 Wolverines to their second straight Big Ten title and first trip to the NCAA Championship game. Buntin, who averaged 20.1 points and 11.5 rebounds, earned All-Big Ten first team honors for the third straight season and his second straight All-America recognition. After making their second straight run to the Final Four, the Wolverines came up short in their quest for a national championship, falling 91-80 to John Wooden's UCLA Bruins in the title game.
Buntin finished his career as one of just two players in Michigan history to collect over 1,000 career rebounds, as he finished with 1,037 in just three seasons, which still ranks second all-time in Michigan history. He finished with 1,724 career points, which is ninth all-time on the Michigan career list. With a career average of 21.8 points and 13.1 rebounds a game, Buntin holds the U-M record with 58 double-doubles in 79 career games.
After his three outstanding seasons with the Wolverines, Buntin was drafted as the No. 2 pick in the 1965 NBA territorial draft by the Detroit Pistons. He played one season in the NBA, averaging 7.7 points and 6.0 rebounds in 42 games during the 1965-66 season. After his brief stint in the NBA, Buntin also played with the American Basketball Association's Indiana Pacers before switching sports and leagues, signing a deal to play with the National Football League's Detroit Lions. He never saw any game action with the Lions, as he ended his professional career in 1967 to go back to school.
Buntin decided to return to Michigan to complete his final semester and earn a degree in education, tragically he would never complete his degree as he suffered a heart attack during a pickup basketball game and passed away at the age of 26 in May of 1968.
Buntin's family and teammates will take part in the ceremony. The Wolverines' game against the Boilermakers is scheduled for a 12:07 p.m. tipoff and will be aired as part of the ESPN-Regional television package.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423