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Fennis Marx Dembo (born January 24, 1966 in Mobile,
Alabama) is a retired American professional basketball player for the
1989 National Basketball
Association champion Detroit Pistons. A small forward
position, he only played in the NBA for one season, averaging 1.2
points and 0.7 rebounds in 31 games. He was selected by the Pistons
in the second round (30th overall) of the 1988 NBA Draft.
Dembo was barely recruited out of high school in San Antonio, Texas, but caught a break when he
was sought out by Wyoming's then head coach
Jim Brandenburg, who had previously been a high school coach in
that city (and would later retire to San Antonio). Dembo's campus
visit was the first time he had ever seen snow; he went on a snowmobile trip as part
of the visit, and would remember in a 2009 interview that he had a
gut feeling that Wyoming was for him.
At Wyoming, Dembo had a spectacularly successful career,
finishing as the leading scorer and rebounder in Cowboys history.
He accumulated 2,311 points and 954 rebounds.
He was part of the Cowboys team that qualified for the finals at
the 1986 National
Invitation Tournament. The following year, the Cowboys
qualified for the Sweet Sixteen of the 1987 NCAA Basketball
Tournament. At the 1987 NCAA Tournament, Dembo was the leading
scorer, averaging 27.8 points per game. Dembo appeared on the cover
Illustrated dressed as a cowboy. He was the first ever basketball player
from the University of Wyoming to be featured on the SI cover.
He was inducted into the University of Wyoming Athletics Hall of
Fame on October 29, 1993.
He played for several years in Europe and the CBA after his
release from the Pistons, retiring in 1998. He then bounced between
several jobs, including a stint as a prison guard in Alabama. After
separating from his second wife, he moved in with his mother in San
Antonio, eventually becoming a maintenance person for the San
Antonio Water District.
Early on Easter morning in 2003, a man broke into Dembo's house
while he and his mother were sleeping. Dembo grabbed a gun and
faced the intruder, warning him to stop and leave. When the
intruder failed to stop, Dembo shot and killed him. No
charges were filed against Dembo, but he was shaken by the
incident, fearful for a time to talk to others or to leave his
room. He ultimately was able to move on from the shooting with
counseling and time. His job with the Water District sparked an
interest in engineering, and he began taking courses in the subject
when his schedule allowed. Eventually, in the fall (autumn) of
2009, he enrolled full-time at St. Philip's
College, a community college in San Antonio.
Dembo's unusual first name came from a suggestion by an older
sister, Zona. He and his twin sister Fenise were the 11th and 12th
children in their family. Zona preferred that they be the last
children in the family, and suggested they be named after
finis, French for "finish".
- First Team All-Western Athletic Conference (1986, 1987,
- Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year (1987)
- NCAA Basketball Tournament record (Best Free Throw Percentage
in One Game - 100%)