BY COREY RITTER ’15, UNIVERSITY WRITER/EDITOR AND DAN CASHEL, DIRECTOR OF CAMPUS RECREATION
James Bone was inducted into the Drury Basketball Hall of Fame, now the Drury Sports Hall of Fame, at the conclusion of his spectacular Panther career. A 1980 graduate, James came to Drury from Chattanooga, Tennessee and was given the moniker “Chairman of the Boards” as Drury Panther basketball became the talk of the NAIA, especially during the 1977-78 and 1978-79 seasons. In 1977-78 the Panthers were the #1-ranked team in the nation and fashioned a 27-4 record. The next year, the Panthers were 33-2 and claimed the 1979 NAIA national championship. Bone was an integral part of that success.
Bone remains Drury’s all-time leading rebounder with 1,096, the only player in Drury history to garner more than 1,000 rebounds. Three members of the ’79 championship team are ranked in the top six on the all-time scoring list, Bone holding the sixth position with 1,920 career points. Jerry Alexander is ranked #2 (2,280 career points), while Nate Quinn is ranked #5 with 1,935 points. Affectionately called “Bingo” by his teammates and fans during his career, Bone was a three-time first team NAIA All-District 16 selection and earned honorable mention honors his freshman season. He was an honorable mention NAIA All-American in 1979 and 1980. Bone’s 297 rebounds in 1977-78 are the ninth most in a season, and his 562 points in that season is 20th all-time for a single season.
A business and economics major, Bone has enjoyed a highly-successful career in business. He has served on multiple boards, including the Drury Board of Trustees. He was the commencement speaker at the 2010 Drury graduation and was honored with a Doctorate of Humane Letters by the University.
What is performance to you and how does it apply to you? How does it apply to Drury?
Performance is often judged by others after a major accomplishment. For example, the Drury men’s and women’s swim teams have established an enviable legacy in academic achievement and athletic performance. This particular view of performance is a measure of who is best. For teams who come in second or third, their performance is considered subpar. I look at performance as a yardstick to measure how you compare to others. I am also struck by the fact that the most successful people continue to strive for high performance because it is so elusive. Personally, I set new goals each year to improve some aspect of my performance.
There are a lot of schools in this area. Why did you choose to come to Drury?
The culture at Drury caught my attention and made me feel comfortable. For this reason, I actually chose Drury over West Point Military Academy. Mike Krzyzewski, the head coach of West Point at that time, recruited me the same year I came to Drury.
What was it like being a student and an athlete?
Since high school, academics and athletics were part of my life, and Drury made the transition easy for me. I am convinced that athletics, or any extra-curricular activity, adds value to the Drury experience.
What did you learn from your experiences at Drury?
I attended the Breech School of Business, and that changed my focus on life. Dr. Strube, the former dean of the Breech School, was a mentor and role model who opened my eyes to what I could achieve. He also showed up at practice to play and shoot around with us! I learned the value of relationships, having a strong mentor and the importance of education. Dr. Strube embodied all that is best in people.
How did the experiences you had at Drury prepare you for the professional world?
Drury is foundational to the person I am today because it exposed me to critical thinking skills, caring educators and a supportive environment. I thrived at Drury because of the unique culture, and I have tried to live up to the success of other Drury graduates. Drury has some of the most prestigious alumni of any school, including Ivy League, which says a lot about Southwest Missouri, and it speaks volumes about the caliber of a Drury education.
Is there anything that you learned from being a student-athlete that is still a part of you today?
Of course. Teamwork is essential to the game or match, and that carries over to the professional world. Everyone has a valuable role to play, and understanding your strengths is one example of many lessons.
Has your definition of performance changed at all since becoming a professional?
I have always been competitive; that hasn’t changed. I have learned, though, that humility is important as well. Endurance is a by-product of quietly getting the job done day in and day out without the need for fanfare.
Any advice you might have for current student-athletes, recent graduates, or seasoned professionals?
Enjoy the experience, learn as much as you can and don’t take it for granted. Continue the legacy!