Goldsboro graduate set NCAA rebounding record in 1974
By Steve Roush
Published in Sports on December 13, 2005 2:01 PM
It's a record that has stood for decades, but one very few people know about.
Even the man who achieved the feat nearly 32 years ago just found out about his NCAA record -- one that may never be broken.
On Jan. 12, 1974, St. Augustine's Larry Gooding grabbed rebound after rebound against Shaw University.
Forty-two times, the 1972 Goldsboro High graduate went up high for a rebound and came down with the basketball.
Goldsboro High School graduate Larry Gooding during his playing days at St. Augustine's.
Since 1973, no NCAA player at any level has come within six boards of the 6-foot-7 Gooding's mark.
And it's not like his 42 rebounds that day were a fluke. Gooding, a sophomore that year, finished his 1973-74 campaign with a whopping 20.1 rebounds-per-game average.
That number also appears in the NCAA record book. It's good for the eighth best total since 1973, a cutoff year where the NCAA decided the game had evolved to the point where it needed to establish a new era of college hoops.
"I always rebounded well," said Gooding, 51, who now lives in San Antonio, Texas.
"I was just ferocious, and I didn't even really know I was that ferocious. I was young at the time and didn't really think about it. I only found out that (the 42 rebounds) was an NCAA record a few months ago."
He says he remembers the Shaw game, and didn't realize how many rebounds he grabbed until after the contest was over.
"I remember the guy who kept the stats came up to me after the game and said, 'Wow, you got 42 rebounds,'" Gooding recalled with a laugh. "I said, 'Really? OK.' And that was about it ... I never thought about it after that."
After all, something else -- something bigger -- was on his mind.
Despite being the leading scorer at the Raleigh college that season, Gooding was growing increasingly dissatisfied with being a St. Augustine's Falcon.
After the season, he transferred to St. Mary's University in San Antonio.
With the Rattlers, Gooding teamed up with future Houston Rockets star Robert Reid. The duo helped lead St. Mary's to a school-record 26 wins in 1975.
With Reid, Gooding played on the NAIA's 10-man basketball squad that toured Mexico.
While he doesn't regret playing at St. Mary's, Gooding is still a bit sad about how things ended at St. Aug's.
"Sometimes I wish I had stayed there," Gooding said. "If I had known about the record, I might have stayed. There was some discord on the team that season, and I felt like I had to leave -- so I did."
Gooding was plagued by knee and back injuries during his junior and senior seasons with the Rattlers, but still put up some good numbers and was a fixture in the starting lineup. And while Reid went on to a 13-year NBA career with Houston, Portland, Charlotte and Philadelphia, Gooding's basketball route took him all over the world.
Gooding tried out for the Rockets and Chicago Bulls, and played in the summer pro league with the New Orleans Jazz, but never hooked onto an NBA roster.
He even drew some interest from the Dallas Cowboys, who were intrigued by his height and leaping ability.
"With the Bulls, I tried out and did well, but they were looking for guards," Gooding said. "In Houston's camp, I hurt my back."
Gooding went on to star overseas in Belgium and in England, played some ball in Mexico, then joined the Air Force.
"Europe was fun," Gooding said. "I probably should have come back (and tried out for the NBA again), but I didn't. It was a good run, and I learned a little French and a little Spanish."
At age 27, however, Gooding tired of the pressure of European hoops, so he continued his career in the military.
"In Europe, you really have to produce or you're gone," he said. "It was great to play in Europe, but there was a lot of pressure. You can only have two Americans on a team, and if you go into a slump or get hurt, they'll find someone else to take your place."
He played on the Air Force basketball team and Armed Forces basketball team, where he played against other military from other nations on foreign soil.
"Basketball has shaped my life," Gooding said. "Even when I was in the service, it was all about basketball."
And it all started in Wayne County.
'He made a lot
of headlines here'
As a senior at Goldsboro High, Gooding was named to the all-state team and was the second-leading scorer in the 1972 East/West All-Star Game.
"He made a lot of headlines here," said Gooding's mother, Alice Gooding, who still lives in Goldsboro. "He was great, really. I'm so proud of my son."
Larry Gooding remembers his days with the Cougars fondly. He retired from the Air Force in 2002, and still gets back to his old stomping grounds from time to time.
"At Goldsboro, I was all-everything," he said. "I played against Bobby Jones, Walter Davis and Phil Ford, who all played in the NBA, and played with John Lucas on the All-Star team. I still get back (to Goldsboro) each May to see my mom and sometimes get back twice a year."
Gooding hasn't played ball for some time now, but says he's starting to get back in shape. Learning about the record he set on Jan. 12, 1974 gave him that spark.
"Everyone gets older, and all good athletes have to let it go at some point ... but it's hard," he said. "I haven't stepped onto the court in years and I let myself go a little bit, but hearing of this record has given me a new drive. I may just step back onto the court again some day and shoot some hoops."
And grab some rebounds.
Larry Gooding paused for a few moments to ponder if his single-game NCAA record of 42 rebounds is safe.
"I really think it'd be hard to break," he said.
He's probably right.
William and Mary's Bill Chambers holds the all-time single-game rebounding mark with 51 boards, which he set against Virginia back on Valentine's Day in 1953.
"In the 50s, you had one big guy and the rest were little, so 40 or more rebounds was possible back then," Gooding said. "Then in the 70s, you had an introduction period to what I consider better basketball -- players got faster, more competition for the basketball. Now, it seems most players want to be artful and pretty ... these guys today are good players, but they want to be one-dimensional and concentrate on offense more than rebounding and defense."
Since 1990, only two players have had more than 30 rebounds in a game.
Fresno State's Larry Abney had 35 against SMU on Feb. 17, 2000, and Jervaughn Scales of Southern University grabbed 32 rebounds against Grambling on Feb. 7, 1994.
"I'm still beaming," Gooding said. "It's just hitting me now that I have an NCAA record."
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