Inducted February 16, 1991
Don Carlson was a member of the spectacular freshman basketball recruit group brought to SMS by Coach Eddie Matthews in 1963. It was a group which would stay together and claim an NCAA Division II runner-up spot under Coach Bill Thomas in 1967, and Carlson was a key performer through four years as a Bear letterman. A native of Republic, Carlson averaged 8.4 points and 9.8 rebounds as a freshman. He hiked that to 11.4 points and 12.7 rebounds a game as a sophomore as SMS improved from 12-11 to a 15-8 record in 1965. The Bears were 19-6 the following season and co-captain Carlson had 11.3 rebounds and 9.4 points a game to guide the Bears to their first MIAA title in six years. SMS had the first of two unbeaten league seasons and what would become a string of five straight SMS league titles. After losing in the Division II regional finals in 1966, the Bears swept all the way to the national championship game in Evansville in 1967. After missing much of his senior year with illness, Carlson got back into action in time to help the Bears past Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Lincoln in the NCAA regional. SMS then stopped Valparaiso and Illinois State in Evansville before dropping a three-point decision to Winston-Salem for the national title. The Bears finished 23-5 in 1967. In spite of missing 20 games his senior year, Carlson played in 79 SMS games, scored 736 points, and collected 844 rebounds. He led the Bears in rebounding twice and in field goal percentage one year. He’s one of only five SMS players to average in double figures in career rebounding, and, nearly a generation after the end of his career is still fourth on the all-time rebound list and 37th in career scoring.