Former Hoosier Steve Bouchie, Member of 1981 Title Team, Passes Away

Tom Brew

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Steve Bouchie, a former Indiana Hoosier who played on the 1981 national championship team and was Indiana's Mr. Basketball in 1979, passed away Sunday after complications from a heart issue. 

He was only 59 years old.

Bouchie, a 6-foot-8 forward, played at Washington High School in southwest Indiana, the same school that later produced IU star Cody Zeller — and his two other brothers Tyler and Luke. Bouchie remained a big part of that community after his basketball career ended. He was a farmer there, and a school board member for more than a decade. 

Bouchie averaged 27 points and 15 rebounds as a senior at Washington, and was a high school All-American and the first Mr. Basketball from southwest Indiana. When he graduated, he ended his career as the Hatchets’ all-time leading scorer with 1,727 points and 842 rebounds, along with helping the team to a pair of semi-state appearances.

He played at Indiana from 1979 to 1983, starting 50 games and averaging 5.1 points per game. He won a national title and three Big Ten titles during his career. He was drafted by the Detroit Pistons in the fourth round of the 1983 draft, but spent the only year of his professional career playing overseas in Italy.

Bouchie's best season was actually his freshman year in 1979-80, the team with Mike Woodson and fellow freshman Isiah Thomas that was ranked No. 1 in the nation at one point.  He started 16 games that season and averaged a career-high 6.5 points per game.

During his Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2009, Bouchie noted becoming a member of the Hall of Fame was not something he planned on when he began playing basketball.

“Induction into the Hall of Fame was the furthest thing from my dreams, but it is something that I will treasure for the rest of my life,” said Bouchie to Mike Myers of the Times Herald.

One of Bouchie’s long-time friends and three-year Hatchet teammate was Roger Padgett.

“He was the best man at my wedding. We be became friends when we were about 11, and I spent a lot of summers out there (on the farm) with him and his family,” Padgett told the Washington Times Herald.

“They were truly some of the hardest working people I have ever known. Both in basketball and around the farm, his strength was legendary on and off the court. He had incredible endurance as well.

“We were so proud of him to have been on the IU championship team (in 1981). He would introduce us to the guys on that team like Isiah Thomas and Randy Wittman, but he was just always quiet and humble about it.

Padgett said Bouchie was a legend in town during his high school career, and long afterward.

“He was like Superman. I remember back in high school, during his junior and senior years, a lot of times players who had just played against him would line up to get his autograph.”

Steve and his wife Lisa, had three children, Carey, Corey and Bryan. Bryan was also a successful basketball player at Washington, playing for the 2005 state champions, and was a member of the 2007 Indiana All-Stars and played at both Valparaiso University and the University of Evansville. Bryan passed away in 2018.

"(Dad) is with my brother now," Carey Bouchie said in a note to the Evansville Courier & Press.

1979 Indiana All-Star team. Fron (l to r) Rick Peckinpaugh (ass't coach) Eric Williams, Chuck Franz, Dave Bastian, Cam Cameron, Dennis Goins. Back row (l to r) Bill Harrel coach, Lynn Mitchem, Leroy Sutton, Dan Glanders, Steve Bouchie, Tom Heitz, Chuck Barnett. (USA TODAY Sports)

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