Gene Ransom, a flamboyant basketball star at Cal in the late 1970s and a member of the school’s athletic Hall of Fame, was killed in a freeway shooting in Oakland on Friday, according to media reports.
Ransom, 65, may be best remembered by Cal fans as having played 63.5 minutes and scoring 36 points in a five-overtime victory against Oregon in 1977.
ABC7 News reported that multiple sources, including friends of the victim, identified Ransom as the driver who was shot and killed on I-880 north of Oak Street. California Highway Patrol originally responded to a crash at about 5:15 pm. Friday, then discovered the driver had been shot.
Ransom was a spectacular talent, first at Berkeley High, where he teamed with future major league baseball player Ruppert Jones to lead the Yellow Jackets into the old Tournament of Champions.
“Gene was a highly intelligent basketball player,” said Jones, 66 and now living in San Diego. “He was light years ahead of anything I could do. He was a much better player than I was — and he was a sophomore when I was a senior. Gene’s knowledge of the game was as good as anyone I’ve ever seen. We were compatible because I was able to play with his talents."
At just 5-foot-9, Ransom was a whirling dervish on the basketball court, quick and elusive. Jones said he was fun to play alongside.
“He did things at his size that other guys couldn’t do,” Jones said. “He was able to compete with players much larger than him because had the ability to create space. He was a great ballhandler, he could shoot and he was fearless.”
According to the East Bay Times, CHP officers have arrested 25-year-old San Francisco resident Juan Angel Garcia, who was booked into Alameda County Jail on suspicion of murder.
Cal Athletics issued this statement of condolence:
“We are shocked to hear the reports that Cal Athletics Hall of Famer Gene Ransom has been identified as a victim in a deadly freeway shooting. Our thoughts are with Gene’s family and friends for this tragic loss. Gene was one of the greatest players in our men’s basketball program’s history, and he will be greatly missed.”
At Cal, under coach Dick Edwards, Ransom played from 1975-76 through 1977-78, totaling 1,185 points, averaging 14.8 points over 80 games. He started all three seasons and scored 17.0 per game his final year as a junior.
He scored at least 30 points in a game three times for the Bears, led the team in assists all three seasons and averaged 2.3 steals per game in 1977-78.
Ransom was chosen in the ninth round of the 1977 draft by the Golden State Warriors, but never played in an NBA game.
He was inducted into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001.
Cover photo of Gene Ransom courtesy of Cal Athletics
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo