Dave Bones, who made a livelihood of his passion for basketball with a pioneering service that rated high school players for college coaches, died Wednesday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, South Detroit Avenue. He was 77.
He learned he had melanoma three weeks ago, his wife, Susan, said, but he dealt with a series of health problems the last four years, including diabetes and spinal stenosis.
He was able to attend two University of Toledo men's basketball home games last season, but before his illnesses, he'd missed only eight home games in the course of more than 60 years. He and his wife regularly drove coaches' wives and families to away basketball games.
In 2005, he retired from Dave Bones Publications and its widely respected CageScope scouting service and from the Blue Chip Basketball Camp, of which he had been co-director.
He began his scouting service in 1957 and also rated high school football players.
"I got out of college and I wanted to find something to do without getting a real job," he said, with a laugh, to The Blade in 2007. "It was nice to find something I really enjoyed."
He eventually dropped the football service.
He told The Blade in 1964 that he knew of no other such national service. To stay current, he read dozens of newspapers. He traveled to see every player he rated within a 200-mile radius of Toledo and, to keep up with the others, relied on correspondence and conversations with high school coaches.
"I see about 200 games a year," Mr. Bones told The Blade in 1980. "It's a full-time job."
His wife said that with the travel and close observation of players' every flaw and attribute, "It wasn't all fun and games. He was busy."
At the scouting service's peak, his newsletters had subscribers from more than 200 colleges and universities in all divisions.
"He loved the game. He loved the idea of being able to help kids find a college where they could play," his wife said.
He scouted many players who became stars, from Jerry Lucas and Dave DeBusschere to Magic Johnson and Le- Bron James. His list in 2007 of the five best local players was Jim Jackson, Howard "Butch" Komives, Dennis Hopson, Joe Cook, and Donald Collins.
"Sometimes it was a matter of letting a coach know about a sleeper," his wife said. "And he liked getting a sleeper into a school. And some of the sleepers continued sleeping, but it didn't happen most of the time."
Mr. Bones of Springfield Township was an emeritus member of the player selection board for the McDonald's All-American high school boys' basketball game.
He was born Oct. 2, 1934, to Alice and J. Harold Bones and grew up in West Toledo. He was a graduate of DeVilbiss High School and received a business administration degree from UT.
"He had a fantastic sense of humor. He had a nice sense of play," his wife said. That humor could have a bite, she said, "but generally people laughed.
"We would have a battle of wits, and sometimes I would surprise him," she said. "He liked it if I would get a good one in, especially when we were around friends. He would get a kick out of it."
For about 15 years, he and his wife made annual trips to Manhattan for sightseeing and play-going — at least one a day. "It was a fun time, and we loved the energy of New York, the hustle and bustle and the fact that you could cross the street with a hundred people," his wife said.
Surviving are his wife, Susan, whom he married May 25, 1978, and stepson, Jeffrey Dunn.
Memorial services will be at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Unity of Toledo, where visitation will begin at 3 p.m. Arrangements are by the Blanchard-Strabler Funeral Home.
The family suggests tributes to Hospice of Northwest Ohio or the Rocket Fund for UT men's basketball.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6182.
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