NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL BASKETBALL LEAGUE
1955-1958-1959 and the Denver DC Truckers
NIBL, AAU Basketball
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Shooting star from deep in Denver
Article Last Updated: 09/03/2007 12:10:45 AM MDT
Anyone who saw Dennis Boone play basketball would come away raving about his game.
Boone was unmatched during his playing days at Manual High School, Regis College and later with the Denver-Chicago Truckers of the National Industrial Basketball League.
From 1953-56, he set career scoring records in the Denver Prep League, surpassing the marks by league stalwarts Chuck Darling of Denver South and Ron Shavlik of Denver East. Darling and Shavlik were centers, whereas Boone was a 6-foot-1 guard with uncanny shooting ability from any place on the court.
When he finished playing at Manual for coach Al Oviatt, Boone's three-year record for points in all games stood at 782. He also set a record for league games only with 386 points. Boone clearly was the class of the Denver Prep League at a time when it ruled high school basketball in Colorado.
"We made it to the state championship game all three of my years at Man- ual," Boone said as he looked back 50-some years. "We won the championship when I was a junior in 1955."
The Thunderbolts lost to Larry Hofner and Greeley in Boone's senior year.
From 1947-58, Denver teams won the high schools' top division title nine of the 12 years.
"The Denver League had the power in those days," said Boone, who turns 70 this month. "I think sometimes the league was tougher to get through than the state."
There wasn't a tougher opponent in Boone's days than center Carney Crisler of Denver North. The two waged memorable battles for the league's scoring championship. Crisler won the scoring title in their junior season before Boone poured it on as a senior to set the scoring records.
"Carney and I battled back and forth our last season," Boone said. "He would lead one week, and I'd get the lead back the next week."
Crisler did his work under the basket, but Boone always put on a show with his long-range shooting. His knack for hitting the long-range shots would have made him even more impressive today with the 3-point field goal.
"He was an excellent player," Crisler said of Boone. "He would make some unbelievable drives to the basket. But if there had been a 3-point line in his day, he would have scored a million points."
Boone was a self-made player, taking advantage of any basketball hoops in the neighborhood.
"I never had any formal training, but I loved basketball," Boone said. "I'd play basketball from early morning until late at night. ... I've thought about what it might have meant if there was a 3-point line when I played. I probably could have been fairly effective, but I never looked where I was on the floor when I shot."
Boone was recognized by The Denver Post as a member of its first all- metro team that designated the five best players in the Denver area. Boone was on the team along with Dana Elm of Sheridan Union (now Sheridan), Bob Linnenberger of Denver East, Gerry Schroeder of Westminster and Don DeLuzio of Regis.
Boone was part of Denver basketball before the professionals came to town for good with the American Basketball Association for the 1967-68 season.
He went into the NIBL with the Truckers because the players were provided jobs with the company sponsors. He joined the trucking company's sales department, a step that would lead to a 32-year career as a salesman and manager in a women's clothing manufacturing company.
When Boone left Manual, he followed the advice of his father, Wendell Boone, who was a major influence on his life after his mother, Lucille Boone, died when he was 2 years old.
"I wasn't recruited by Colorado or Colorado State," Boone said. "I received some letters from some big schools that had some interest, but my dad said he thought I should go to Regis because he liked the people who talked to me and my chances for an education. If he told me to walk through a wall, I would say, 'OK."'
At Regis, Boone played for Harvey Moore and Joe Hall. Boone prospered under Moore, but didn't see eye to eye with Hall, who later became the coach at Kentucky.
"Harvey Moore was demanding, but a good teacher," Boone said. "Joe didn't think anybody could play unless they were from Kentucky."
When Boone moved to the Truckers, he found Johnny Dee as the coach and teammates who included Joe Belmont, Horace Walker and Joe Capua. While with the Truckers, Boone made an all- star team from the league that toured internationally, playing Russia and most of the top teams from around the world.
He also was introduced to the president of a clothing manufacturing company who was looking to diversify his management team.
"He told me he would double my salary and I said, 'When do you want me to report?"' Boone said.
Boone saw the country in his new job, joining offices in San Francisco, Minneapolis, Chicago and Cincinnati and for a short time in Denver. He retired in 1999 and returned to Denver.
He still is in basketball in a way. He is following the career of his grandson Wendell Boone at Thomas Jefferson High School.
"He can play a little bit," Boone said.
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