B.J., Roy and Ed are three names Iowa will fans cherish forever
Former Iowa forward Ed Horton looks back at his time as a Hawkeye
By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – B.J., Roy and Ed.
Say those names to an Iowa fan and most would know right away to whom you’re referring: B.J. Armstrong, Roy Marble and Ed Horton; probably the most recognized triumvirate in the history of Hawkeye sports.
Consider with the three of them you have one of the greatest point guards in program history in Armstrong; one of the greatest small forwards in program history in Marble, and one of the greatest power forwards in program history in Horton.
That’s a lot of greatness out of three teammates, who played different, but equally important roles.
Armstrong was the conductor and the facilitator, while Marble was the high-flying act and Horton the rugged enforcer.
They all scored over 1,000 points at Iowa, and in Marble’s case over 2,000 points, and they played in four consecutive NCAA Tournaments, the first under George Raveling and the other three under Tom Davis. They also are the highest scoring triumvirate in program history, combining for 5,193 points.
Horton was our guest on the Hawk Fanatic/KCJJ radio show and podcast on Friday, so that’s partly why I’m reminiscing about his days at Iowa.
I was curious to get his thoughts on Iowa’s game against Illinois Friday night in Champaign, Ill., since Horton grew up nearby in Springfield and still resides there.
From a strategical standpoint, Horton had some simple advice for his alma mater: feed Luka Garza in the post.
Asked how he would’ve defended against Iowa’s All-America center, Horton said he would’ve leaned on the 6-foot-11 Garza and just battled and competed.
Horton paid tribute to Marble, who died from cancer on Sept. 11, 2015 at the age of 48.
They were in the same 1985 recruiting class and became close friends at Iowa. They stayed close friends long after college, and Horton still speaks with members of Marble’s family on a regular basis.
In addition to Horton and Marble, Iowa’s 1985 recruiting class consisted of Armstrong, center Les Jepsen and shooting guard Kevin Gamble.
George Raveling only coached for three seasons at Iowa from 1983-86, but that was enough time for him to have loaded the roster with talented players, many of whom would go on to play in the NBA.
In fact, all five members of Iowa’s 1985 recruiting class played in the NBA.
Horton was named Illinois Mr. Basketball in 1985 and had his pick of colleges as a 6-foot-8 power forward.
One of the biggest reasons Horton picked Iowa is that Raveling also offered Gamble a scholarship. Horton and Gamble both attended Lanphier High School in Springfield and were close friends.
Gamble played two seasons in junior college before joining Horton in Iowa City.
Illinois, according to Horton, didn’t offer Gamble a scholarship, and that helped pave the way for them to be teammates at Iowa.
“We wanted to play together in college and Iowa gave us that opportunity,” Horton said.
Gamble, a 6-6 shooting guard, blossomed as a senior under Tom Davis, and was instrumental in Iowa advancing to the NCAA Elite Eight in 1987.
Gamble’s success as a senior put him on the NBA’s radar and he would go on to play for nearly a decade in the NBA, averaging 9.5 points per game over the course of his career.
Armstrong also had a long and successful career in the NBA, winning three championships with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.
Horton, Marble and Jepsen didn’t have long NBA careers, but that takes nothing away from what they accomplished as Hawkeyes.
Marble has been Iowa’s all-time leading scorer for over 30 years with 2,116 points, although, Luka Garza is on the verge of passing him.
Marble’s son, Devyn Marble, also played basketball at Iowa and made first-team All-Big Ten as a senior shooting guard in 2014.
Horton made first-team All-Big Ten as a senior in 1989 and finished with 876 rebounds to rank fourth on Iowa’s all-time list.
Jepsen went from playing sparingly early in his Hawkeye career to being the 28th player selected overall in the 1990 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors.
Iowa’s 1985 recruiting class was special in so many ways because it’s not often that a class produces five future NBA players.
The current Iowa team has its own triumvirate with Garza, junior Joe Wieskamp and senior point guard Jordan Bohannon each building his own legacy. It marks just the third time in program history that Iowa has had three 1,000-point scorers on the same team.
The current Iowa players also have a huge fan in Horton, who ended Friday’s interview by saying “Go Hawks.”
Horton played in numerous big games as a Hawkeye, but one stands out to him, and surprisingly, it was a loss.
Iowa’s 102-96 loss to North Carolina State in the second round of the 1989 NCAA Tournament is the game that Horton remembers the most, partly because of how well he played with 32 points and 12 rebounds, but also because it was his final game as a Hawkeye.
“I didn’t want it to end,” Horton said. “I loved playing college basketball, and I loved being a Hawkeye. I just didn’t want it to end, and I think that’s why I played so well that day.”
Horton, Marble and Armstrong were sophomores on Iowa’s 1986-87 team that set a school record with 30 victories, and advanced to the Elite Eight.
They could’ve transferred after Raveling resigned to become the head coach at the University of Southern California.
But instead, they stayed unified and stayed the course as Hawkeyes, and would benefit from it greatly.
They didn’t win a Big Ten title and they fell one game short of making the Final Four in 1987. But B.J., Roy and Ed provided so many thrills for Iowa fans during what was a glorious run.
It was fun reminiscing with Horton on Friday and listening to him tell stories about his time at Iowa.
He talked about getting his ankles taped for the first time by John Streif, and about how Streif made college so much more comfortable for him.
Horton also told a story about Tom Davis trying to climb to the highest point of the Great Wall in China during the team’s trip to China in the summer of 1986.
Davis didn’t make it all the way to the top, but the effort he put forth made quite an impression on Horton.
“He was so determined to get to the top,” Horton said.
Horton was only 17 years old when he joined the Iowa team in 1985, but he was wise and hardened beyond his years.
He had grown up in a single-parent home and watched his mother play two roles as mom and dad.
His talent as a basketball player helped changed the course of Horton’s life because it allowed him to go to college on a scholarship.
And though he didn’t have a long and prosperous NBA career, Horton moved on after basketball and has since dedicated his life to raising his five children, which includes four daughters and his 12-year old son.
“My kids are what matters the most to me,” Horton said.