Inducted February 23, 1985
A standout performer for the basketball Bears during the transitional but highly-successful seasons between the Andy McDonald years and the seasons of Bob Vanatta, Fordland native Bill Lea lettered for the Bears from 1949 through 1952 and started his last three years. Coach McDonald’s Bruins won MIAA titles in Lea’s freshman and sophomore years and Lea was the second leading scorer on the 1949-50 team with an average of 9.4 points a game for the 19-5 Bears. SMS was a strong 22-3 the next year as Vanatta took over the program but all three losses came in MIAA play and the Bruins missed an opportunity for a third straight trip into the NAIA district playoffs. Lea averaged 10.7 points a game. He was an SMS co-captain as a senior as the Bears won 27 of 32 starts, breezed to a 10-0 MIAA mark, won the district playoffs, and then scored five straight victories and the NAIA national championship in Kansas City. An NAIA all-tournament and All-American selection, Lea finished a close second on the team in scoring behind Fordy Hamilton and hauled down 379 rebounds, an average of 13.1 a game. His rebound total was an SMS record at the time and more than 30 years later is still the fourth best single season total on record at SMS. Lea’s career point total was 823, currently 21st on the all-time list.