Joe Claxton Guest Writer
Editor’s Note: Following is Part 2 of a three-part series on former Ada High standout Bo Overton, who is the school’s all-time leading scorer in boys basketball. Senior-to-be Cory Kilby is third on the all-time list and has a chance to pass Overton during the 2014-15 season.
Yes, THAT Moscow, clear as a bell, dateline via phone with Ada Cougar great Bo Overton, just off his first season as the coach of the Dynamo Kursk Russian Premier League women’s team.
Kursk? Isn’t that down by Hennepin? Velma or Alma?
A Kursk overview reveals the city as an administrative center of Kursk Oblast of Russia, situated in the western part of central Russia. The city is an important highway and railway junction. There is also an international airport “Vostochny” in Kursk.
Kursk has the population of about 428,000 (2012), land area — 189 sq. km. In comparison, Oklahoma City is pop. 579,000, 621 sq. miles. (Ada is 18 squares, 17,000-plus souls.)
When calling Overton at 10:23 p.m. CST on a Friday, he will answer in Kursk on Saturday, 7:19 a.m.
The seven-hour train ride from Kursk to Moscow, then a 12-hour flight Moscow to Houston and Overton was home in Ada, chomping the long-anticipated Folger burger, double meat, of course.
The occasion was a visit and photo-shoot with Cory Kilby, an AHS senior who will challenge Overton’s all-time career points record at the school.
It had been a long trip, since 1979 in fact, and several trips around the world.
To paraphrase singer Neil Young: “He’s been to Redwood, he’s been to Deadwood,” ... he’s even been to Glenwood. Throw in Russia and China among some 13 coaching stops for the legendary Ada Cougar roundballer. A miner for a ball of gold.
On the road again
After Ada, Overton was a starting point guard at the University of Oklahoma under Dave Bliss and Billy Tubbs, 1980-83. At the end of his career, he held school records for free-throw percentage, assists and games played.
He was selected by the Phoenix Suns in the 1983 NBA Draft. His NBA days were short, and he opted for a career he never really thought he wanted: coaching.
First came a GA position at his alma mater, and then a position with a CBA team in Pensacola, Fla.
Then college men’s assistant jobs at Oral Roberts, Southwest Texas State and Louisiana Tech, and head coach and athletic director at Murray State College in Tishomingo for two years.
Then came a mid-life change, not a crisis really, just a switch from coaching men to women. In 1998, he had returned to Norman to be near his mother after his father died.
The University of Oklahoma women’s team was under Sherri Coale, who had asked if he had ever considered coaching women. All of a sudden, he was an assistant coach for Coale.
During his seasons at OU, the women won 143 games and three regular-season conference titles. The Sooners played in the 2002 Women’s Final Four in San Antonio, losing out to Connecticut, 82-70, in the national championship game.
As the crowds rose from a couple of hundred to 5,000 and salaries, increased Overton definitely saw a future in the women’s game.
After OU, Overton was the head women’s coach at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
After more than 20 years of coaching men’s and women’s college basketball teams, he was named head coach of the WNBA Chicago Sky for the 2007 season. Also in the WNBA, Overton has worked as a consultant to the Tulsa Shock. He has also been an assistant coach for the Bahamas women’s national team.
In fact, that international experience helped land the Chinese excursion.
It has been a course in International studies for Overton, from women to vittles.
As brothers Jim and Jerry Folger performed their magic at the flattop grill, Overton mused about trying to locate substitutes overseas.
“In China, or Russia for that matter, don’t even think about an old-fashioned burger, even a Folger knockoff. No mom-and-pop burger joints in Russia or China.”
The closest thing?
“McDonald's, I guess in Russia, though they mess with the sauce on the Big Mac.”
Other than the predictable, Chinese food, “In China I ate a lot of Subway,” he said between large bites of the large burger.
Though Overton dated in both countries, through his travels, he never married.
“They were all gorgeous,” he said of the women of the world. There was no one special, I never got to stay long enough.”
Also, he told one reporter he always thought: “I’m going to settle down in a year or two. I’ll stay in one place. I’ve got plenty of time.”
With the situation in Ukraine, did he make sure his passport was up-to-date?
“Are you kidding? With all my traveling I have extra pages from everywhere. Money? I have euros, rubles ..."
Claxon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.