Carlyle Towery was a product of the Diddle era of Western Kentucky University basketball. The late coach Ed Diddle, creator and innovator of the basketball tradition at Western, considered Towery one of his greatest performers.
“Big Boy” Towery, although just 6′ 5″, always drew Diddle’s opponent’s toughest big man. According to former athletic director Ted Hornback, Diddle’s assistant when Towery played, “Towery used to beat the opposition’s big man to death physically.”
In the three seasons Towery played at Western, the Hilltoppers won 68 games and lost only 13. The Toppers were also champions of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament during those three seasons as well as champions of the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament in 1939 and 1940.
The 200-pound Towery was a member of Western’s first team to play in NCAA tournament action. He played center when Western faced Duquesne in 1940. The Toppers lost that game 30-29 with Towery suffering from an injured foot and missing much of the action. However, his missing most of Western’s tournament appearance did not reflect on his fine season too much. He was named to Chuck Taylor’s All-American team that year.
Towery was especially known around Western for his jumping ability. He was one of the few basketball players in the early 1940s capable of dunking the ball. He was also one of the first players in the South to start shooting the jump shot, but his was something unusual. According to Hornback, “Towery had the craziest way of shooting. He would jump straight up in the air, turn completely around, and shoot a two-handed shot from above his head, all in one motion.”
Towery, an agile basketball player had long arms that constantly harrassed opponents. He had a great natural ability for playing basketball and was a fierce competitor.
“He was one of the greatest competitors and most dedicated players that Mr. Diddle and I ever coached, ” said Hornback.
The former Western star later played professional basketball with the Baltimore Bullets and the Ft. Wayne Pistons.
Name: Carlyle Towery
Basketball Letters: 3 (1939, 40, 41)
High School: Shady Grove (Crittenden Co., Ky.)
Height: 6′ 5″
Nicknames: “Big Boy” & “Blackie”
All-American: 1940 (Chuck Taylor)
Pro Basketball: Baltimore Bullets, Ft. Wayne Pistons
Note: Towery’s son, Bill, played freshman basketball
at Western during the 1969-70 season.