Bulldog Bailey : Thirty-Six Years Later, Howell Goes to NCAA Tournament With Mississippi State


Long before center Erick Dampier and his Mississippi State teammates stirred college basketball excitement in Starkville, Miss., Bailey Howell led the Bulldogs to greatness.

But many were deprived of the chance to see it.

Howell played center at Mississippi State from the 1956-57 season through 1958-59 and is the Bulldogs' lone consensus All-American, having been selected in his senior season. A three-time All-Southeastern Conference selection, he still holds many of the school's all-time, single-season and single-game records.

Mississippi State went 24-1 in his senior year, winning the SEC title, but passed up the NCAA tournament because of an unwritten policy that prevented the Bulldogs from playing racially integrated teams.

"It threw a lot of cold water on our championship," Howell said. "We were the best team in the South . . . but we didn't get to see how good we really were."

The Bulldogs, playing in the tournament for only the third time, qualified for their first Sweet 16 by defeating Utah in the second round on Sunday, 78-64, at Boise, Ida.

Howell, who retired in December after 23 years in sales and promotions with an athletic shoe company, lives in Starkville and is traveling with the team during the tournament.

"He didn't get to go before," Bulldog Coach Richard Williams said, "so this is his tournament."

At 6 feet 7, Howell scored 2,030 points and averaged 27.1 a game at Mississippi State. He grabbed 1,277 rebounds, averaging 17. He set single-game records with 47 points and 34 rebounds.

The Detroit Pistons selected him with the second overall pick in the 1959 NBA draft.

He played five seasons with the Pistons, two with the Baltimore Bullets, four with the Boston Celtics and one with the Philadelphia 76ers.

He was on two championship teams with the Celtics. In a 12-year NBA career, Howell was a six-time All-Star and averaged 18.7 points and 9.7 rebounds in 951 games.

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