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Tom Stith, ex-Knick, dies at 71

Tom Stith, a prolific scoring small forward who led St. Bonaventure to its first NCAA tournament berth in 1961 and later played for the Knicks, died after a lengthy battle with cancer and kidney problems. He was 71.

Stith died Sunday at a Long Island hospital, his daughter, Karin Stith, said Tuesday.

Born in Virginia, Stith and his family relocated to New York, where he became a high school star at St. Francis Prep before turning the Bonnies into a powerhouse a half-century ago. He is regarded as the Bonnies' second-best player behind Bob Lanier.

From 1958 to 1961, Stith led the Bonnies to a combined 65-12 record and three postseason berths, including two NIT appearances.

At 6-foot-5, he had "a silky smooth" playing style with a near-perfect lefthanded scoring touch, and was regarded as one of the top high school players to ever come out of the city.

Stith was selected second overall by the Knicks in the 1961 NBA draft. He played two seasons with New York before his career was cut short by tuberculosis.

- AP

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