Four Hoosiers Among 2009 Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame Induction Class
Dec. 3, 2008
NEW CASTLE, Ind. - Steve Alford - 1983 Indiana high school "Mr. Basketball" for New Castle, a two-year All-American and 1987 NCAA champion for Indiana, and a 1984 Olympic gold medalist - heads the 2009 class of inductees for the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.
Alford is the eighth honoree to be selected in the first year of eligibility, 26 years after high school graduation. He joins Oscar Robertson (a 1956 graduate, inducted in 1982), Rick Mount (1966-1992), George McGinnis (1969-1995), Kent Benson (1973-1999), Larry Bird (1974-2000), Kyle Macy (1975-2001) and Dave Colescott (1976-2002).
Two National Basketball Association head coaches, Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs (Merrillville), and Scott Skiles of the Milwaukee Bucks (and 1982 state champion Plymouth), also are in the 14-man group who will be inducted in the men's banquet Wednesday, March 25, at Primo's in Indianapolis.
Alford is one of four former Indiana University players on the list. Others are Wayne Radford of Indianapolis Arlington, 1979 "Mr. Basketball" Steve Bouchie of Washington and Ted Kitchel of Cass. Radford was on IU's unbeaten 1976 NCAA championship team, and Bouchie and Kitchel were on IU's 1981 NCAA champions.
Also in the induction class of 2009 are Denny Bishop of unbeaten 1957 state champion South Bend Central, "Mr. Basketball" Phil Cox of 1972 champion Connersville, Fred Fleetwood of Southport, Dick Hickox of Fort Wayne North, Bill James of Scottsburg, Dolph Pulliam of Gary Roosevelt, Bob Sakel of Jasper, and Vaughn Wedeking of Evansville Harrison (and 1970 NCAA runnerup Jacksonville). Hickox, who played at Miami (Florida), is deceased.
Popovich, who played college basketball at the Air Force Academy, is one of five men who have coached four or more NBA championship teams. He also is in the top three all-time in won-lost percentage in regular-season and playoff competition. Skiles, an All-American and Big Ten Player of the Year for Michigan State, has a spot in Indiana high school lore for his long game-tying basket at the end of regulation time and 39-point contribution to Plymouth's 75-74 double-overtime upset of Gary Roosevelt in the state championship game.
*Charles Jenkins, St. Vincent Silver Medal - sports announcer that covered Indiana basketball superbly for over 40 years in Southern Indiana is being awarded The St. Vincent Silver Medal. This medal is presented annually to someone that has made a significant contribution to high school basketball in some fashion other than as a player or coach.
**1969 Indianapolis Washington State Basketball Team - Any high school basketball team that is undefeated and wins the state championship is automatically inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, as a team. It took 45 years of conducting the state tournament before such a dubious distinction was earned by Indianapolis Crispus Attucks High School in 1956. The following year the Bears from South Bend Central High School equaled the standard by achieving a record of 30 wins and no defeats. Indianapolis Washington High School was the third school to accomplish such a difficult feat, as the team racked up 31 wins without losing a game.
Coach Bill Green led the 1969 Continentals into the most amazing state finals ever, as Washington, Marion and Vincennes were all undefeated and Gary Tolleston had only lost one game. Washington slipped by Marion by the slimmest of margins, 61-60, in the afternoon game before defeating Gary Tolleston 79-76 in the championship tilt.
Herb Schwomeyer, in his book, Hoosier Hysteria, describes George McGinnis and Steve Downing as the two best big men ever to play on the same team in the history of Indiana Basketball. McGinnis stood 6' 7" and Downing was 6' 9" and each young man weighed 220 pounds. George McGinnis was named Mr. Basketball for the 1969 Indiana All-Star Team and his Washington teammate, Steve Downing, was also his running mate on the All-Star Team. Coach Green, George McGinnis and Steve Downing have all been inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame and it is only fitting that this great team is now being inducted, as a unit.
The Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame's Annual Men's Banquet will be held on Wednesday, March 25, 2009. The ceremony will take place at the Primo Banquet Hall, which is located on the south side of Indianapolis. Tickets will be made available in early 2009. Call the Hall at 765-529-1891 for more information.
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