Five Great Broncos For All-Time Center

After the four preliminary polls, Tanoka Beard, Bruce Bolden, John Coker, J.D. Huleen and Brian Sperry qualified for the final. One of those will be crowned Boise State's All-Time Center after the voting concludes next week!

Tanoka Beard (1989-1993)

 

This great Bronco is the only player in school history to score over 500 points in three different seasons.  He poured in 566 his senior year, 524 his junior season and 514 his sophomore year.  He bested Bronco superstar Steve Connor by 17 points to capture the all-time record in 1993 and averaged 17.7 points a game (3rd behind Ron Austin and Connor).

 

Beard also ranks 5th all-time in rebounds with 670 and 7th in average with a 6.1 average for his career.  Tanoka is second in field goals (676), fourth in attempts (1,151) and fifth in field goal percentage (58.7%).  He shattered school records with 592 career free throws, beating 2nd place Connor by 207, and free throw attempts with 833, 347 more than Connor.

 

Beard also holds the record for blocked shots with 160 and is 10th in games played (110) and 5th in games started (106).

 

 

Beard is third all-time in scoring for a single season with a 21.0 average in 1992-1993.  He is fifth for field goals (199) that same season.  He is the only player in Boise State history to rank in the top ten for free throws in three different seasons.  His sophomore year, he made 148, improved that to 166 the following year and then 168 his senior season.  Tanoka is 3-4-5 in that category.  Beard also dominates the free throw attempts section with 231 in 1991-92 (2nd), 209 the next year (4th), 205 his sophomore year (5th) and 188 his freshman season (7th).

 

Under the tutelage of Head Coach Bobby Dye, Beard became a good defensive player.  He blocked 50 shots in 1990-91, then 41 the next year and 38 his senior year.  Beard ranks 3rd, 5th and 7th in that category. 

 

Beard holds the all-time record for free throws and free-throw attempts in a game with a 20-25 performance against George Mason on December 29, 1992. 

 

Beard led Boise State in scoring all four seasons of his career, the only player ever to do that.  He averaged 13.6 points a game his freshman year, then hit 17.7 as a sophomore, 18.1 as a junior and hit 21.0 his senior year.  Tanoka also led the Broncos in rebounding his final three years, averaging 5.0, 7.0 and 7.7 respectively.  Keep in mind that he was originally supposed to redshirt but began playing after the season started.

 

Beard also is the only Bronco to lead his team in blocked shots all four years, rejecting 1.2 per game his first year, 1.7 as a sophomore and 1.4 per game in each of his last two years.

 

His leadership did not stop there.  He paced his team in field goal percentage in 1989-90 (115-198 for 58.1%) and again his senior year (199-339 for 58.7%).  A center doesn't often lead his team in free throw shooting but that's exactly what he did in 1991-92, canning 166 of 231 attempts for 71.9%.

 

Beard still ranks fourth in Big Sky Conference history in points and fifth in blocked shots, 14 years after he took to the Pavilion for the final time.

 

Beard's leadership on and off the court led to him winning the Jeff Foster Memorial Award his last two seasons, one of only three players to win it multiple times.  He was tabbed as Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year in 1990 and is Boise State's only three-time all-conference player, chosen to the team in each of his last three seasons.  Beard was selected to the Big Sky All-Tournament Team in 1993 and voted the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.

 

Beard's senior team won 21 games, tied for fifth best all-time.  They made 511 free throws, fifth in the record book.  Thanks to the presence of Tanoka, three of his Bronco teams rank in the top six in blocked shots.  They are 2nd with 119 in 1991-92, tied for third with 109 his senior year and 6th with 106 in 1990-91.

 

Defensively, Beard and the Broncos hold the school record by holding opponents to 1,222 attempts in 1989-90.  Beard's freshman team ranks 4th by holding opponents to 1,683 points and fifth by limiting the opposition to 588 field goals. 

 

A rash of injuries forced Tanoka to play as a true freshman but from the moment he took the floor, he was an instantaneous star and fan favorite.  With players like Chris Childs, Wilson Foster, Doug Usitalo and Arnell Jones gone, it was rebuilding time for Boise State and Coach Dye put hopes on Tanoka's broad shoulders.  The Broncos had a 12-15 season that first year.  By 1990-91, Beard and the team had greatly matured, and the record surged to 18-11.  The Broncos had victories over Gonzaga, Utah State and Pepperdine to their credit and qualified for the National Invitation Tournament. 

 

Some close losses the following season (seven by six points or less) led to a disappointing season at 16-13.  But the following year was a banner year for Boise State, capturing the Big Sky Conference Tournament with wins over Weber State and Idaho.  The Broncos traveled to Utah to play Vanderbilt but ran into a sharpshooting opponent and were eliminated in the first round. 

 

Tanoka chose to play professional ball in Europe, and his performance there has been nothing short of amazing.  During his professional sports career, Tanoka has enjoyed unparalleled success as one of the most powerfully gifted and skilled American players to ever play in Europe.  He has been voted to 12 all-star games in 13 seasons, won five MVP awards and six team championships.  In those 13 seasons, he has averaged 17 points and eight rebounds per game.

 


Bruce Bolden (1981-1985)

 

Coach Bobby Dye had the big body he wanted inside in Bolden.  Bruce dominated the boards from 1981-1985.  He nearly broke the school record in rebounds, although Bill Otey's totals were accumulated in two years.  Bolden grabbed 767 in his four seasons to 805 for Otey in two years.  Jason Ellis then came along and pushed Bolden down to third.  Still, Bolden's average of 7.0 is tied with Pat Hoke for fifth. 

 

His rebounding led to numerous easy putbacks and thundering dunks, propelling him to sixth all-time in field goal percentage (358-624 for 57.4%).  He also ranks 4th in blocked shots with 108 and 4th in steals with 151.  Beard his tied for 10th in games played with 110 and is 8th in starts with 87.

 

Bolden ranks 4th in field goal percentage with 65.5% his senior year (114-174) and is 8th with 60.1% his sophomore year (101-168).  Bruce's best season in blocked shots came his junior year when he turned back 39, sixth all-time. 

 

Bolden is one of only two Broncos to lead his team in rebounding each of four years, with Ellis being the other.  Bolden pulled down an average of 6.6 his freshman year, 7.1 the following season, 5.8 as a junior and 8.4 as a senior.  He paced the Broncos in field-goal percentage in his sophomore and senior years, hitting 65.5% in 1982-83 and 65.5% as a senior.

 

Bruce also led Boise State in blocked shots three of the four years.  He blocked .9 his first season, then 1.4 as a junior and .9 as a senior.  Bolden also led Boise State in steals his senior year with 45.

 

The Broncos had 480 assists during Bolden's freshman season to rank fourth all-time.  They held opponents to 1,734 points in his junior year to rank fifth. 

 

Bolden provided the transition to greatness at Boise State.  In his first two years, the Broncos were 11-15 and 10-17 under Dave Leach.  Then, Bobby Dye came in and things immediately improved, with Boise State going 15-13 and 16-13 in Bruce's final two years.  Those records don't tell the entire story, however, as 10 of the losses in 1983-84 were by five points or less and six of them were two points or less.  Another five losses the following year were also by five points or less.  In other words, not only was the team winning more, but nearly all of the games were competitive, something the Broncos couldn't say before Coach Dye came in.

 

In fact, Boise State gave a hint of things to come when they sent shock waves through the Big Sky Tournament in 1985, beating future NBA player Larry Krystkowiak and #1 seed Montana 67-54 before losing to a tough Nevada squad in the semifinal.

 

 

John Coker (1991-1995)

 

Coker is the #11 scorer in Boise State history, pushed out of the top ten by Coby Karl last year.  He averaged 13.4 points a game and scored 1,126 points.  John also ranks 9th in field goals (439) and 10th in field goal percentage, hitting 439 of 797 for 55.1%.  Coker ranks 2nd in blocked shots with 156 to Tanoka Beard's 160. 

 

In the 1993-94 season, Coker blocked an amazing 77 shots, the all-time record by 24.  Coker averaged 17.4 points per game that same season, tied for 13th all-time.  The following year, he blocked 49, good for fourth in Bronco history. 

 

He led the Broncos in scoring in his junior and senior years, averaging 17.4 and 15.9 respectively.  Coker also topped the team in rebounds those two years by averaging 6.8 in 1993-94 and 7.3 the following season and in field goal percentage (57.3% and 52.9% respectively).  He was easily the team leader in blocked shots those two years as well by averaging 2.6 and 2.3 rejections.

 

Coker's hard work was rewarded by Coach Bobby Dye in being named the recipient of the Jeff Foster Memorial Award his senior year.  John also made the Big Sky Conference team each of his last two seasons and the All-Tournament team in 1994.

 

Coker's sophomore team is tied for fifth in wins with 21 and ranks fifth in both free throws with 511 and free throw attempts (712).  They are also tied for third in blocked shots with 109.  John was the main reason his junior team holds the school record in blocked shots with 143.  They also made 848 field goals, tied for fourth all-time and rank second in assists with 520, fourth in rebounds with 1,099 and fifth in steals with 267.  Coker's freshman team is second in blocked shots with 119.

 

Defensively, Coker and the Broncos are fourth in field goal percentage-defense by limiting opponents to 43.6% shooting his junior year.  

 

Boise State was 16-13 in Coker's first season with nice wins over St. Mary's, San Jose State and Air Force.  They captured tournament championships each of the next two seasons, going 21-8 in 1992-93 and 17-13 the following year.  Coker helped the Broncos advance to the NCAA Tournament, not faring well against Vanderbilt but putting a real scare into perennial power Louisville his junior year.  Boise State finished 17-10 in John's senior year.

 

Coker played for the Idaho Stampede briefly and was with three different teams in the National Basketball Association:  Phoenix, Washington and Golden State.  He scored 134 points and had 95 rebounds in brief action for the three teams.

 

  
J.D. Huleen (1993-1997)

 

Huleen set the unusual mark of 89 career three-pointers in his career, far and away the record for centers.   Huleen is 13th in that department and 12th in attempts with 276. 

 

He actually led Boise State in three-point shooting his junior year, hitting 34 of 95 for 35.8%.  J.D. also paced the Broncos in rebounding, blocked shots and steals his senior year.  He grabbed 4.7 rebounds, blocked .6 shots per game and was credited with 1.4 steals per contest.  

 

Huleen and the Boise State defense set an all-time record by allowing just 1,678 points his senior year.  That averaged out to 62.1 points a game, good for fifth all-time.  That same team set records for fewest field goals allowed (566) and fewest blocked shots allowed (44) and ranks second with 1,236 field goal attempts allowed, tied for second by allowing just 283 assists and tied for third by giving up 871 rebounds to the opposition.  His junior team allowed just 56 shots to be blocked by the opposition (fourth all-time) and only 1,296 field goal attempts, fifth in the record book.  In 1994-95, Huleen and the Broncos did such a great job taking care of the ball that they allowed only 161 steals by opponents, the third best performance in school history.  In his freshman year, the Broncos held opponents to 43.6% shooting to rank fourth there. 

 

Huleen helped Boise State to a 17-13 record his freshman year and the Big Sky Conference Tournament championship.  Down to Louisville by double digits in the NCAA Tournament, the Broncos closed to within three before losing 67-58.  The Broncos were 17-10 the following year under Coach Bobby Dye, but slipped to 15-13 and 14-13 under new coach Rod Jensen.

 


 Brian Sperry (1986-1989)

 

Sperry was quite possibly the best sixth man ever for the Bronco basketball team.  He provided valuable minutes for starter Greg Dodd—he excelled at defense and rebounding. 

 

In Sperry's first season, the Broncos set the school record for steals with 344, scored 2,196 points (6th all-time), hit 49.7% of their shots (fourth) and rank third in free throws (544) and second in free-throw attempts (792).  

 

Defense was the name of the game the following year.  Boise State stole 308 balls in 1987-88, 2nd best in school history.  They allowed just 56.3 points a game, a school record, and set another Boise State mark by allowing just 29.1 rebounds per game.  That team ranks 3rd in points allowed (1,680), 4th in field goals allowed (580), 4th in three-pointers allowed (75), 4th in three-point shots attempted (231) and 5th in rebounds allowed (874).

 

In Brian's senior year, the Broncos hit 49.6% of their shots, fifth all-time.  Boise State's sharp passing and superior ball handling resulted in just 158 steals by the opposition all year—the second lowest total ever.  They also sank their free throws (71.9%), tied for third in the record book.  Boise State kept the tenacious defense alive, limiting opponents to only 58.9 points per game, second best in school history.  They also held the opposition to 576 field goals (third) and 1,287 attempts (fourth). 

 

Sperry's time at Boise State was the most successful three years in school history.  They were 22-8 in 1986-87 with wins over Cal Irvine and Portland.  The Broncos defeated Utah in the National Invitation Tournament before losing on the road to Washington 73-68.  The next year was the dream season—24-6, 13-3 in the Big Sky, a 16-1 record to start the year and a Big Sky Tournament Championship at Montana State.  The Broncos played three games against Top 10 teams and had a chance to win all of them in the final seconds.  Boise State lost 63-58 to a Michigan team that featured seven future NBA players and a team that would win the national championship the following year.  In Sperry's senior year, the Broncos won yet another Big Sky Championship with a 23-7 overall record and were rewarded with a return trip to the N.I.T., where they fell to Oklahoma State 69-55.

 

 

 

 


Bronco Country Top Stories