The College Hoopedia.com website is listing NCAA basketball records that it predicts will never be broken. One of the first ones listed was set by Shreveport’s Robert Parish during his four-year career at Centenary College.
During his college career at Centenary, Parish ranked among the nation’s top five in Division 1 rebounding in all four seasons, averaging more than 15 rebounds per game each year. Nobody else has averaged 15 in one season since Larry Smith of Alcorn State averaged 15.1 in 1979-80.
Parish, who finished his high school career at Woodlawn of Shreveport after playing two years at Union of Shreveport before integration, had his highest collegiate average (18.7 per game) as a a freshman at Centenary, with single game highs of 33 against Southern Mississippi and 30 at Lamar.
He averaged 15.3 as a sophomore in 1973-74, with a high of 26 against Houston, and 15.4 as a junior in 1974-75, with a single game high of 27 against Northwestern State. He averaged 18.0 rebounds per game as a Centenary senior, with a single game high of 24 at Northern Illinois.
Parish had 20 or more rebounds in 33 games during his college career, and 25 or more rebounds in eight games.
In his senior season at Woodlawn , he scored 1,136 points (30.7 per game) and grabbed 735 rebounds (19.9 per game) as Coach Ken Ivy’s Knights won the state championship with a 50-49 victory over Rummel (New Orleans). Parish was the Most Valuable Player on the All-Prep team selected by the Louisiana Sports Writers’ Association, which was the top five players in all six LHSAA classes.
Before he went to Woodlawn, Parish led Shreveport’s Union High to the Louisiana Interscholastic, Athletic and Literary Organization state tournament two years in a row. The LIALO governed all-black schools before integration.
In his junior season at Woodlawn, the Knights scored a 79-73 victory over previously unbeaten Booker T. Washington (New Orleans) in the Top Twenty semifinals although Parish fouled out with 34 seconds remaining in the third quarter and the Knights trailing by 11 points.
“I thought they played better without Parish,” said BTW coach Ted Washington. “It made our kids relax when he fouled out, It would’ve been better for us if he’d stayed in.”
“It had to be the greatest comeback any team of mine has ever made,” Ivy said.
Parish was being recruited by universities and colleges all over the United States. I had been staying up with Ivy since he coached a sixth grade team in the Shreveport recreation department program, but in the middle of Parish’s senior season I received a letter from an assistant coach at Washington State telling me what a great job Ivy was doing.
A few weeks later, the assistant coach (Dale Brown) was named head coach at LSU, and he interrupted a press conference at the Shreveport airport to make a phone call to Parish. But by that time, Parish had decided to stay in Shreveport and play college basketball at Centenary. Later, he had a pro basketball Hall of Fame career with the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics.
To say the least, basketball was not a big deal at LSU before Brown took over the coaching reins. When I was at Northwestern State, the only times the Demons scored 100 points in four years were against an Army team from Fort Polk and a 103-75 rout of LSU in a 1956 Christmas holiday tournament at Shreveport’s Hirsch Coliseum. Demon guards Dick Brown and Jimmy “Red” Leach, a pair of Sabine Parish products, each scored 30 points in that blowout.