Born: May 28, 1926 - Winfield, KS
Died: February 25, 2005
Graduated: Winfield High School, 1943; Michigan State University, 1948
Attended: University of Kentucky, 1943-1944, 1946-1947
The youngest collegiate basketball All-American of all time, Bob Brannum of Winfield was hard-nosed player and coach of legendary status. His toughness on the court earned him the respect of opponents, teammates, and two of the greatest basketball coaches of all time.
Brannum, along with his twin brother Clarence, attended Winfield High School and graduated in 1943. Too young to enlist or be drafted into the military to fight in World World II, Brannum decided to accept an invitation for a try-out from fellow Kansan Adolph Rupp, the head basketball coach at the University of Kentucky. Rupp, a fellow KSHOF inductee, was so impressed with Brannum's skills he offered Brannum a scholarship.
Brannum in the Land of Bluegrass
Brannum was the centerpiece of the University of Kentucky team that was nicknamed "the Wildkittens" because of the collective youth of the squad. He led the team in scoring as a freshman, was a first team All-SEC performer and a consensus first-team All-American. Brannum was only seventeen and became the youngest collegiate All-American in NCAA history. Following his freshman season, Brannum was drafted into the U.S. Army where he served until 1946 when he returned to the University of Kentucky. He then transferred to Michigan State to play his senior year, where he was named a team captain, earned first-team all-conference honors, and garnered honorable mention All-American status.
Brannum signed with the Sheboygan Redskins following his collegiate career before being traded to the Boston Celtics. Playing for Celtics coach Red Auerbach, Brannum became the unofficial "body guard" of NBA Hall of Famer Bob Cousy. Teams learned quickly that if they wanted to foul Cousy, they had to go through Brannum first. He played four seasons with the Celtics, scoring 1,742 points, grabbing 1,944 rebounds, and totaling 1,034 personal fouls - a testament to his reputation for hard-nosed basketball.
Coaching Career and Honors
Brannum retired professional basketball in 1955 and soon began his coaching career. He coached basketball and golf at Norwich University and Kenyon College before taking the same positions at Brandeis University where he became that school's all-time winningest coach with 204 victories, including the 1978 NCAA Division III Regional Championship. Brannum was inducted to the Brandeis Hall of Fame in 2001 and the New England Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003.