This Temple University Owl may have been missing vowels in his unusual last name. But, it gave birth to one of the most inventive nicknames in college basketball history.
Lacking vowels aside, there was no question that whenever Bill Mlkvy stepped onto the court, there was nothing lacking in his game.
With the NCAA basketball tournament getting ready to dominate our lives again this year, I thought it would be neat to remember Mlkvy today in my #TBT sports blog.
Associated Press sports writer Ralph Bernstein first called Temple’s Bill Mlkvy The Owl without a Vowel. The sharpshooting Mlkvy’s five letter last name was comprised only of consonants. As a child, Mlkvy got teased at school. He even asked his dad to change the family name, but the odd spelling stuck.
Years later, as a highly touted high school senior, the crazy spelling of Mlkvy’s last name came into question. Legendary University of Kentucky basketball coach Adolf Rupp thought his assistants were spoofing him. He wondered how an East Coast prospect could possibly have such an unusually spelled last name.
Mlkvy ended up staying closer to home for college. He attended Philadelphia’s Temple University. It had a great dental school and Milkvy’s plan was to become a dentist after college.
At 6’4” and 185 lbs. this Owl without a Vowel soared at Temple. In 1951, he was named NCAA All-American First Team. Mlkvy enjoyed an incredible junior season. He led the nation in scoring with 731 total points and a 29.5 ppg average.
Among all NCAA players that year, the Temple Owl also finished second overall in total rebounds and assists.
Mlkvy is still remembered today for his March 3, 1951 performance against Wilkes College. The Owl without a Vowel poured in an incredible 73 points, the fourth highest total in NCAA basketball history, during the Owls’ 99 – 67 win. He scored a remarkable 55 points in a row for his team.
The Philadelphia Warriors selected Mlkvy with their first pick in the 1952 NBA Draft. Because of a conflict with his military status, Mlkvy only played one season with the Warriors and averaged just 5.8 ppg in his rookie season.
Mlkvy never played professionally again and opted to enter dental school instead.
Bill Mlkvy may not have enjoyed the lengthy professional basketball career that so many fans expected. However, older NCAA basketball fans will never forget the unusual spelling of this unusually talented player’s last name. And, they’ll always remember Mlkvy’s incredible 1951 junior season in which he tallied one of the most impressive statistical seasons in college basketball history.
This Owl without a Vowel may have been missing certain letters in his last name. But, when it came to the hardwood, there was nothing lacking in the Temple All-American’s stellar game that he regularly brought to the basketball court.
In addition to reading about Phi Slamma Jamma, Pistol Pete Maravich, Never Nervous Pervis Ellison, The Admiral David Robinson and more in NCAA Basketball Favorites, you’ll learn why this Owl Without at Vowel was such a hoot during his playing days at Temple.
MIKE on sports!