Wilt Chamberlain is remembered for many things. Perhaps one night in Hershey, PA stands out more than any other. That night in front of a slightly over half capacity crowd he scored 100 points in a 169-147 win over the Knicks. This is one of the most famous sports images ever.
Chamberlain would go on to average a mind-blowing 50 points and 25 rebounds that season…and not win the NBA MVP. Bill Russell did. The Celtics would beat Elgin Baylor’s Lakers in 7 games to win another NBA title.
There are many other less known, yet fascinating stories of players scoring 100 points in a game.
In the United States, 100-point games have occurred at least once at most levels of education. At the middle school level, 13-year old 8th grader Bob Harrison scored all 139 of his team’s points in a 139–8 win on February 3, 1941. In high school, there have been 24 verified occurrences, 19 by male players and 5 by female players. Epiphanny Prince holds the girls record of 113 for Murray Bergtraum HS in New York. The boys’ high school record is 135 points, scored by Danny Heater on January 26, 1960. Playing for Burnsville High School in West Virginia against Widen High School, Heater made 53-of-70 field goals and 29-of-41 free throws. His 135-point outburst is still the highest total for the high school level worldwide.
At the college level, there have been four 100-point games, two of which were recorded by Clarence Francis of Rio Grande College. Francis scored 116 points against Ashland College on January 9, 1953, but because the opponent was not a four-year institution, the total does not count as the official college record. One year later, on February 2, 1954, Francis scored 113 against Hillsdale College, which is the recognized highest total in United States college basketball history. Rio Grande College was (and is) not classified as a Division I institution, and therefore the only player to score 100 points at the Division I level is Frank Selvy of Furman. Selvy recorded exactly 100 points on February 13, 1954—less than two weeks after Francis scored 113—against Newberry College. He scored his 99th and 100th points on a 40-foot shot as the final buzzer sounded.
Internationally, the highest single player total between national teams is 116 points, scored by the Phillipines’ Luis Salvador in May 1923 against China. It happened during the 1923 Far Eastern Games. The highest single game total in worldwide organized basketball history, irrespective of gender, age or competition level, is 272 points, scored by a 13-year old boy named Mats Wermelin of Sweden. He recorded every single point in his team’s 272–0 win on February 5, 1974, during a regional boys’ tournament held in Stockholm. Only one player, other than the United States’ Bevo Francis, has recorded multiple 100-point games in organized competition. Croatia’s Marin Ferenčević scored 101 and 178 points in April and May 2006, respectively, during Under-14 Croatian League matches.
Former NBA player DaJuan Wagner is one of the most interesting stories. He scored 100 points in a game in high school…and wasn’t even the highest scoring player in the country that day! Another high school player scored 101 points on the same day! Wagner actually scored his 100 with 4 minutes left in the game too but was pulled out of the blowout win.
Will we ever see another NBA player score 100 points in a game? I don’t think anyone playing in the NBA now can do it. But perhaps someone will come along and be good enough and be presented with the perfect opportunity.
As Jerry O’Neill pointed out to me, the 100 points in a game isn’t even Wilt’s most unbreakable record. In that same 1961-62 season, Wilt averaged 48.5 minutes per game. Yes, NBA games were only 48 minutes. He played every minute, including overtime that season that he could. He ended up with 3882 of 3890 minutes. He was ejected with a second technical with 8 minutes to go in a game.