MORGANTOWN — Bucky Waters, West Virginia University men’s basketball coach from 1966-69, went on to develop an unbelievably fantastic career.
It included a 10-year coaching stint at Duke University, numerous stops as an analyst nationally for ESPN and other national outlets and still-working public speaking engagements.
Perhaps the most significant and profound performance of all came after he exited from coaching. That was as vice chancellor of development for Duke University’s medical center.
I’m informed by others that the New Jersey native has become so popular that he raised tons of money for Duke’s medical program.
So much so that he was presented an honorary doctor’s degree that he still holds while residing with his wife Dottie in a Durham, North Carolina, retirement community.
“It entitles me to make only one house call and that’s to my home,” Bucky chuckled during my recent telephone interview.
During his four years as the Mountaineers’ head coach, Waters posted three consecutive 19-9 records before slipping to 12-14 in 1968-69. That’s when he resigned and returned to Duke, where he spent six years as an assistant previously, and became the Blue Devils’ head coach.
Ron “Fritz” Williams was Waters’ best all-around player. He had been the school’s first black player to be recruited for men’s basketball.
Williams played three years under Waters’ direction and was named to All-America second-team status in 1968.
Asked whether he enjoyed his years in Morgantown, Waters replied enthusiastically:
“Oh, Mickey, Mickey, I’m 29 years old. I’d never been a head coach, and (athletic director) Red Brown gave me a chance on a big stage. How often does that happen?
“You know that when you coach basketball, especially in that era following Jerry West and Hot Rod Hundley, you are pressured as the coach of the ego and vitality and confidence of the whole state.
“It was more than great – the life of a young basketball coach – we certainly loved it!”
Waters, who will turn 79 in December, stated the fact that “nobody ever said I couldn’t recruit.” Indeed, he had good players at both WVU and Duke.
People who know his beautiful wife Dottie would testify to that fact. They were sweethearts at a very early age.
“We have been married as long as we have been because we’ve loved the same last name,” she chipped in chuckling.
They live in a cottage on Durham’s well-known retirement community since Bucky retired about eight years ago. He had served 30 years as a “journalist” of national acclaim in various basketball roles on radio and television.
Bucky and his wife have three grown children, a son and two daughters, 12 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
While at West Virginia, Waters guided the Mountaineers to upset victories in two of his three meetings with Duke. One of these was when the Blue Devils ranked No. 1 in the nation.
“Yes, I kind of did have some mixed feelings that night,” Bucky recalled. “But we were feeling great.”
In all, Waters served 35 years in television as a commentator.
“It was a wonderful change,” he said. “I even did the Olympics and things came our way.”