#21 (Retired) 5'9" Guard from Mt Vernon, Ill. All-OVC 1951,1952 UP All-America Honorable Mention 1951, 1952 NAIA Tournament MVP 1952 UP 'Small-America' 1952 Murray State Athletics Hall of Fame 1969 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) HOF 1969 Ohio Valley Conference HOF 1990 Kentucky Tennis Association HOF 1994 Intercollegiate Tennis Association HOF 1999 Mount Vernon High School HOF 2011 Bennie Purcell grew up in Dix, Illinois, a small town north of Mt.Vernon. In 1943, when Bennie started high school, made the nine mile trip to and from school each day on horseback. He was a three-year starter for legendary coach Stan Changnon, ending his high school career with 601 points. Following high school, Bennie joined the military at the tail end of WWII and spent the year getting in top shape and even managed to work on his shooting. After the war ended, with the aid of an old friend Purcell was put in contact with new Thoroughbred basketball coach Harlan Hodges (a former West Frankfort Illinois High school coach Bennie had played against) and the rest is Murray State history. Bennie took the floor with a bang, scoring 10 points in his first game, leading the Breds to a victory over Kentucky Wesleyan. He was an instant crowd favorite, "The crowd always cheered and knew what would happen when Bennie Purcell came onto the floor, complete attention was commanded from the spectators by Bennie's fast zig-zag dribbling." In his junior year, Bennie helped bring home the first OVC championship in school history, "It's difficult to win any championship," Purcell said, adding that it was a "great feeling" to be on the first MSU team to win the OVC title. Bennie made the 1951 All-OVC Tournament team and received an honorable mention on the United Press All-American team.
"The crowd always cheered and knew what would happen when Bennie Purcell came onto the floor"