Thunder notebook: Half-court winner Robert Yanders has hall-of-fame touch

BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Modified: December 13, 2010 at 7:43 pm •  Published: December 13, 2010

Unbeknownst to the Thunder entertainment department, it randomly selected a hall-of-fame basketball player out of Sunday night's sellout crowd inside Oklahoma City Arena.

Thunder personnel picked Robert Yanders to participate in the MidFirst Bank Shot Contest during the second quarter of the Thunder's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Yanders won a free-throw shooting contest, which qualified him to take a half-court shot worth $20,000. Yanders was the 97th fan in Thunder history to shoot from half court in the contest, and the first one to make the shot.

Turns out there's a good reason Yanders was successful. He is a member of the Missouri State-West Plains Athletic Hall of Fame. As a point guard for the Grizzlies, Yanders led his team to the NJCAA Regional 16 championship in 1998-99 and the No. 2 national ranking the following season.

He finished as the school's leader in multiple categories, including career free throws (241), career assists (279), season free throws (160 in 1998-99), season free-throw percentage (.833 in 1998-99), free throws in a game (19) and 3-point field goals in a game (7).

Before West Plains, Yanders led Milwaukee's Vincent High School Vikings to three straight state championships and two city conference championships while being named all-conference twice and all-state once.

After West Plains, Yanders transferred to Missouri State in Springfield, where he played for former Oral Roberts coach Barry Hinson for two seasons. Yanders led the Bears in free-throw percentage (.855) and assists (105) his junior year, 3-point shooting percentage (.443) his senior year and received honorable mention All-Missouri Valley Conference preseason honors his senior year. He had career averages of 10.4 points, 3.1 assists and 2.8 rebounds.

Yanders failed in his tryout with the Milwaukee Bucks and played pro ball in the British Basketball League for the Scottish Rocks in Glasgow, Scotland.

Thunder officials confirmed there are no disclosure requirements for participants in the contest and Yanders received the $20,000.

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