Gene Bess
Biographical details
Born (1935-03-03) March 3, 1935 (age 88)
Oak Ridge, Missouri, U.S.
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1957–1959Lesterville HS
1959–1964Anniston HS
1964–1969Oran HS
1970–1971Three Rivers CC (assistant)
1971–2020Three Rivers CC
Head coaching record
Overall1,300–416 (college)

Gene Bess (born March 3, 1935) is a retired American basketball coach.


Bess, a native of Oak Ridge, Missouri, coached twelve years at Lesterville High School, Anniston High School, and Oran High School, recording 250 wins.[1]

Bess went to Three Rivers Community College in Poplar Bluff, Missouri in 1970, where he spent one season as an assistant coach before taking over head coaching reigns in 1971.[1] His career win-loss record is 1,300-416 (.757 winning percentage), making him the all-time winningest college basketball coach at any level. He won two national junior college basketball titles, in 1979 and 1992, and was the first college coach to reach 1,000 and 1,200 wins.[2][3] Bess coached NBA player Latrell Sprewell at Three Rivers. Bess announced his retirement from coaching in May 2020 after suffering from health problems in his final years on the bench.[4]

Bess was inducted into the Poplar Bluff Sports Hall of Fame in 1983, the Missouri Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1988, the NJCAA Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame 2006.[5] In February 2023, Three Rivers Community College unveiled a Gene Bess statue in front of its homecourt, the Libla Family Sports Complex.[6] He was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2023.[7]


  1. ^ a b "Gene Bess". Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2023-05-02.
  2. ^ "Bess becomes first college hoops coach to 1,000 wins". February 23, 2006.
  3. ^ "Three Rivers' Gene Bess reaches 1,200 wins". The Washington Times. Associated Press. January 9, 2015. Retrieved May 1, 2022.
  4. ^ "College basketball victories leader Gene Bess retires at 85". ESPN. Associated Press. May 11, 2020. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  5. ^ Hudgison, Chris (2023-02-18). "Legendary Three Rivers coach Gene Bess selected to Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2023". Retrieved 2023-05-02.
  6. ^ "Gene Bess statue unveiled at Three Rivers College". KKTV. 2023-02-05. Retrieved 2023-05-02.
  7. ^ "Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame announces 12 inductees for the Class of 2023". The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2023-05-02.