Only three basketball players in U.S. history have scored more points in a high school career than Bennie Fuller did. From 1968-71, Fuller amassed an astounding 4,896 points for the Arkansas School for the Deaf and in the process became something of a legend in the state's basketball circles, as Rex Nelson of Sporting Life Arkansas reminds us, by way of pleading for help on the legend's behalf: Now living in Oklahoma, Fuller is among the many people to have lost homes in the recent tornadoes there.
The one-sheet on Fuller is incredible:
• A 6-foot-2 guard, he scored 102 points in a game in 1971, including 38 in the fourth quarter. It is believed to be the only time a deaf player scored 100 points in a state-sanctioned varsity game.
• His 50.9 points per game average in 1970-71 was a national record at the time, though it now ranks third.
• He led Arkansas School for the Deaf into the state regional tournament as a senior.
• Though few schools scouted him, more than 100 offered scholarships.
Arkansas, UTEP, and Memphis were among the schools recruiting Fuller, but according to the Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal, he enrolled at Pensacola Junior College for three reasons: 1) They offered a technical typesetting course he wanted to take; 2) They could accommodate him with a full-time interpreter; 3) They also offered a scholarship to Donnie Nutt, one of his high school teammates.
Donnie Nutt is the brother of Houston Nutt, the former football coach at Arkansas and Ole Miss. Donnie has full hearing, but the Nutts' father, the late Houston Sr., was speech-impaired and had coached Fuller at the School for the Deaf, where the elder Nutt also served as athletic director. It was Houston Sr.'s wife, Emogene, who nicknamed Fuller the "Wilt Chamberlain of the deaf." The School of the Deaf had dedicated its basketball court in Fuller's name back in January.
Bennie Fuller averaged better than 30 points per game in his first year at Pensacola, but the team was terrible. The coach who had recruited him got fired, and his replacement brought in a bunch of recruits and reduced Fuller's playing time. Fuller earned his associate's degree and transferred to Arkansas Pine-Bluff, where he played for two more seasons and earned a bachelor's in community recreation.
After initially doing some teaching at the School for the Deaf, Fuller has gone on to work for the postal service. He and his wife have four children, all of whom can hear. Sporting Life Arkansas says those who wish to donate to help Fuller and his family can make checks out to the Bennie Fuller Donation Fund that's been set up at First Security Bank, which has locations throughout Arkansas.