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Jim Rowinski Former Big Ten Player of the Year Has Died

From walk-on to player of the year.

Northwestern v Purdue Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Purdue lost a legend yesterday as it was announced that former Boilermaker walk-on turned Big Ten Player of the Year Jim Rowinski passed away. He was 63 years old.

Rowinski played at Purdue from 1980-1984 and yes for those people that follow Purdue that means that he was part of Gene Keady’s first team. The 6’8 250 pound Rowinski spent most of his career backing up another Purdue legend, Russell Cross. During Rowinski’s time at Purdue he helped the team finish third in the NIT, reach the NIT Final, the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and to a share of the Big Ten title during his senior season. During that senior season he averaged 15 points and just under 7 rebounds per game.

Longtime Purdue reporter Doug Griffiths shared a memorable story on Twitter about the 1983 team. In a a game against Illinois Coach Keady was unhappy with his team’s effort in the second half and benched almost all the starters before Rowinski and others brought the team back into the game and Rowinski himself hit a game winner.

At the end of his senior season Rowinski, who again, started as a walk-on, was named the Big Ten Player of the Year. He also won The Chicago Tribune Silver Basketball. While this award ended in 2007 it was awarded every year to the top player in the conference. Rowinski became just the second Purdue men’s player to win the award, Rick Mount had won it twice before (Glenn Robinson would win it later on).

Over his career he finished with 542 points and 283 rebounds. Following his time at Purdue he was drafted in the fourth round of the 1984 NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz. He played just 23 games over his NBA career, which actually didn’t begin until 1990, but had a very long career playing professional basketball elsewhere.

We wish his family peace during this difficult time.