William L. Buntin (May 5, 1942 – May 9, 1968) was an American basketball player. He played collegiately for the University of Michigan and in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Buntin died of a heart attack at age 26.

Bill Buntin
Bill Buntin.png
Buntin from 1965 Michiganensian
Personal information
Born(1942-05-05)May 5, 1942
Detroit, Michigan
DiedMay 9, 1968(1968-05-09) (aged 26)
Detroit, Michigan
Listed height6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)
Listed weight250 lb (113 kg)
Career information
High schoolNorthern (Detroit, Michigan)
CollegeMichigan (1962–1965)
NBA draft1965 / Pick: Territorial
Selected by the Detroit Pistons
Playing career1965–1966
PositionPower forward / Center
Career history
1965–1966Detroit Pistons
Career highlights and awards
Career NBA statistics
Points324 (7.7 ppg)
Rebounds252 (6.0 rpg)
Assists36 (0.9 apg)
Buntin Stats Edit this at Wikidata at NBA.com
Stats at Basketball-Reference.com

College careerEdit

Buntin was born on May 5, 1942 to William and Rosa Buntin. He graduated from, Northern High School in Detroit, Michigan in 1961, playing under Coach Eddie Powers. He attended Michigan, playing from 1962–1965 for Coach Dave Strack.[1][2]

In three seasons playing center for Michigan, the 6' 7" Buntin had 1,037 rebounds, ranking second in school history. He averaged 15.7 rebounds a game in 1963 and recorded 58 double-doubles in 79 games, still a school record. His 1,725 points ranks 9th in school history. Playing with Cazzie Russell in the 1963-1964 season, Buntin helped Michigan win its first Big Ten title in 16 seasons and advance to the Final Four.

In 1962-1963, Buntin made his varsity debut (freshman didn't play varsity in his era), averaging 22.3 points and 15.7 rebounds for Michigan and Coach Strack. The team finished 16-8.[3]

Michigan improved to 23-5 in 1963-1964, finishing first in the Big Ten Conference. Buntin averaged 23.2 points and 12.5 rebounds, teaming with Cazzie Russell (24.8, 9.0) to lead the Wolveines to the NCAA Tournament for only the second time in program history.[4][5] In the 1964 NCAA University Division Basketball Tournament, Buntin scored 26 points with 15 rebounds in the 84-80 win against Loyola (Il) and 15 points and 10 rebounds in the 69-57 victory over Ohio. Buntin had 19 points and 10 bounds in the NCAA Final Four 91-80 loss to Duke. He then had 33 points and 14 rebounds in the 3rd place 100-90 victory over Kansas State.[6][7]

As a Senior, Michigan finished 24-4 1964-1965, winning the Big Ten title for a second consecutive season. Buntin averaged 20.1 points and 11.5 rebounds alongside Russell (25.7, 7.5).[8] In the 1965 NCAA University Division Basketball Tournament, Buntin had 26 points and 11 rebounds as Michigan won 98-71 Dayton; he had 26 points and 14 rebounds in the 87-85 over Vanderbilt. In the Final Four 93-76 victory over Bill Bradley and Princeton, Buntin had 22 points and 14 rebounds. In the NCAA Championship Final loss to UCLA, he fouled out with 14 points and 6 rebounds.[9][10]

In his senior year, the Wolverines advanced to the 1965 NCAA title game, where they lost, 91-80, to John Wooden's UCLA team with Gail Goodrich.[3] He was named an All-American in both 1964 and 1965.[11]

Overall, Buntin averaged 21.8 points and 13.1 rebounds in 79 games at Michigan.[12]

Before Buntin embarked on his NBA career, he played for Team USA in the 1965 Fifth World Games in Budapest, Hungary. He helped the United States to a gold medal.[13]

Professional careerEdit

Buntin was selected by the Detroit Pistons as a territorial pick in the 1965 NBA draft.

Buntin played in 42 games as a rookie for the Pistons in the 1965–66 season, averaging 7.7 points and 6.0 rebounds.[14] He was ordered by the Pistons to lose weight and was involved in a conflict with player-coach Dave DeBusschere. Buntin was suspended and then released by the Pistons before the start of the 1966–67 NBA season.[15]

In 1966-1967, Buntin played with the Battle Creek Braves and Twin Cities Sailors of the North American Basketball League under Battle Creek Coach Med Park and Twin Cities Coach Johnny Egan.[16][17][18]

In 1967-1968, he played in the preseason with the Indiana Pacers of the American Basketball Association.[19][17]

In January, 1967, Buntin signed a contract with the Detroit Lions of the National Football League. Weight was cited as an issue in his professional athletic pursuits.[20][21][22]


During a pick-up basketball game on May 9, 1968, Buntin suffered a fatal heart attack. He was survived by his parents William and Rosa, sister Beverly and three children.[23][1][21][22]

Former teammate George Pomey said, "(Buntin) was a very easy going, jovial guy who could keep his calm during the toughest games. He accepted everything as it was, never letting things bother him. This was his problem in the pros.[21]


Buntin has received numerous posthumous honors for his accomplishments in basketball, including:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "William L "Bill" Buntin Jr. (1942-1968) - Find A".
  2. ^ "Detroit Tribune, 8 May 1965 — Michigan Newspaper Collection". digmichnews.cmich.edu.
  3. ^ a b "UCLA vs. Michigan Box Score, March 20, 1965". College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com.
  4. ^ "Brandon's Blog: Dave Strack Changed the Face of U-M Basketball". University of Michigan Athletics.
  5. ^ "1963-64 Michigan Wolverines Roster and Stats". College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com.
  6. ^ "Bill Buntin 1963-64 Game Log". College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com.
  7. ^ "1963-64 Michigan Wolverines Schedule and Results". College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com.
  8. ^ "1964-65 Michigan Wolverines Roster and Stats". College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com.
  9. ^ "1964-65 Michigan Wolverines Schedule and Results". College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com.
  10. ^ "Bill Buntin 1964-65 Game Log". College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com.
  11. ^ "Consensus All-America Teams (1959-60 to 1968-69)". College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com.
  12. ^ "Bill Buntin College Stats". College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com.
  13. ^ "FIFTH WORLD UNIVERSITY GAMES -- 1965". www.usab.com.
  14. ^ "Bill Buntin Stats". Basketball-Reference.com.
  15. ^ "Basketball Star Dies". Detroit American. May 10, 1968. p. 2. Retrieved October 27, 2020.
  16. ^ "Eastern Basketball Association Rosters". www.nasljerseys.com.
  17. ^ a b "ABA Players-Bill Buntin". www.nasljerseys.com.
  18. ^ "Eastern Basketball Association Rosters". www.nasljerseys.com.
  19. ^ "ABA Indiana Pacers Rosters". www.nasljerseys.com.
  20. ^ "Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan on January 11, 1967 · Page 35". Newspapers.com.
  21. ^ a b c THE MICHIGAN DAILY,Saturday, May 11, 1968,Page Six
  22. ^ a b The Detroit Pistons: More Than Four Decades of Motor City MemoriesBy Steve Addy, Jeffrey F. Karzen
  23. ^ "The Honored Five". University of Michigan Athletics.
  24. ^ "The Honored Five - University of Michigan Official Athletic Site". Mgoblue.com. Retrieved 2011-04-14.
  25. ^ "Bill Buntin (1980) - University of Michigan Hall of Honor". University of Michigan Athletics.

External linksEdit