SPRINGFIELD, Mo–Bear Nation, and the Ozarks basketball community as a whole, is mourning the death of Robert Yanders Monday.

Yanders was a Milwaukee native, but played his collegiate basketball in the Ozarks.

He died at the age of 44.

An official cause of death has not immediately been released.

Yanders played two years at SMS West Plains before joining Barry Hinson’s Southwest Misssouri State Bears from 2000-2002.

After a 12 year pro career in Great Britian, Yanders returned to the Ozarks and founded “The Basketball Movement” and was an AAU coach for Yanders Law.

Yanders was a tutor and mentor to a number of players most notably Alize Johnson, Trevon Brazile and Anton Brookshire.

The voice of the Bears Art Hains remembered Yanders.

“I heard about that and was just shocked this morning. Not only did he contribute two great years to the Bears and then go overseas and play. But then he came back and established these different levels of youth basketball. And sent a lot of kids to high school if not college and pro careers,” said Hains.