PRO BASKETBALL PLAYER
The big man from DeSmet had Missouri basketball fans flying high during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Steve Stipanovich dominated Missouri high school basketball during the time and brought the state together to root for some of the best college teams ever from the Show Me State during his tenure at Mizzou. His 6´11. frame was a perfect match for the NBA, as he earned his living battling against greats like Kareem Abdul Jabbar.
THE EARLY YEARS
Stephen Samuel Stipanovich was born on November 17, 1960, in St. Louis. He grew up in the St. Louis area and attended the perennial sports powerhouse, DeSmet High School. The near-seven-foot-tall center dominated Missouri basketball during his prep school years, leading DeSmet to a pair of state championships. They also put up a sixty-game winning streak along the way. His inside dominance also got the attention of national basketball writers as he was named a consensus All American.
RISE TO FAME
“Stipo,” as he was known, made a big splash on college basketball during his very first year at the University of Missouri–Columbia. He was paired up with guard and fellow Missourian Jon Sundvold as the Tigers compiled one of the best teams in school history. Stipanovich average double figures in scoring all four years at Mizzou, leading the Tigers to four straight Big 8 Conference titles. By the time he graduated, he was the all time leading scorer, the top rebounder, and top shot blocker in school history.
SHOW ME SUCCESS
The 1983 NBA Draft was a tale of two big men. Steve Stipanovich and Ralph Sampson were the two favorites to go No. 1, but a coin flip sent Sampson to Houston, and Stipanovich to Indiana. Stipanovich certainly didn’t have any first year jitters in professional basketball, averaging more than twelve points and nearly seven rebounds a game while earning a spot on the NBA All-Star Rookie Team.
His success continued for the next four years, averaging more than thirteen points a game as the Pacers dramatically improved. His career, however, came to an abrupt halt in the late 1980s due to a degenerative knee condition. He retired from the NBA in 1989 due to knee problems, but not before leading the Pacers to the playoffs in the 1986–87 season.
*Stipo was named the Big 8 Conference Newcomer of the Year in 1980 and the Conference Player of the Year during his senior year.
*The UPI and CBS-TV named him the College Basketball Player of the Year in 1983.
*Stipo was a great student at Mizzou as well, earning first-team Academic All-American honors.