The South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame is dedicated to the preservation, documentation and display of South Dakota's sports history.

Lee Colburn - Inducted 2011

Perhaps the greatest basketball player in South Dakota State history, Colburn probably was the most exciting as well.

The Brookings High grad was all-state in 1968 and ’69 as the Bobcats won the state “A” title in ’68 and were runners-up in ’69. Colburn, who set the school single-game scoring record with 38 points, was a prep All-American in 1969.

After being recruited by Division I coaches Joe Cipriano (Nebraska), Tex Winter (Washington) and Cotton Fitzsimmons (Kansas State), Colburn signed with Jim Marking and SDSU. The No. 1 reason for choosing Division II SDSU was that Division I didn’t allow freshmen to play varsity and Division II did, and Colburn wanted to play right away.

At SDSU, he finished his career No. 1 in scoring (1,822 points) and rebounding (837). But more than scoring or rebounding, the 6-foot-6 Colburn probably is remembered most for his exceptional speed, body control and twisting-turning layups.

“He just always went flying down the court,’’ Marking told the Brookings Register. “Lee was a great competitor. He laid it on the line every ballgame. He played awfully hard and that’s the way he lived his life. He was just go, go, go.”

Colburn was an All-American in 1973, when he led the North Central Conference in scoring (23.3), was third in rebounding (12.2) and shot 52.9 percent from the field. He earned all-conference honors three times (1971-72-73). During his years at SDSU, the Jackrabbits were 22-4 in 1970, 15-7 in 1971, 17-8 in 1972 and 18-8 in 1973. The Jacks were in the NCAA playoffs in 1970, 1972 and 1973.

Colburn was a third-round draft choice of the Houston Rockets, surviving until the final cuts. He played pro basketball for a season in Belgium and attended the NBA summer league in L.A., playing for the Rockets. He tried out again with Houston the next year, again making it to the final cuts.


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