With the entire NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball tournament being played in Indiana this year and the Big 10 Tournament back this week, thousands of people will be pouring into the great Hoosier state and primarily here in Central Indiana.
As we prepare for this unprecedented few weeks, I was able to attend a call about all the things State Tourism and the Indiana Sports Corporation are doing to showcase our state during this exciting time. While listening to them speak, I started reminiscing about my high school days.
In 1985, my family moved from California to Richmond, Indiana, the summer before my sophomore year. Now anyone who knows me, knows that I’m not athletic in any way. But when basketball season arrived, I soon learned what the saying Hoosier Hysteria was all about, and I loved going to the games.
I even became a Bleacher Creature my Senior year. The Richmond High School team had been state runner-up the year before, so even though they had lost some players who graduated, basketball was big. I will never forget going to Hinkle Fieldhouse to watch the Semi-State game with friends. Although we didn’t end up with a win that day, it was such an exciting time.
I'm quite sure anyone reading this who grew up in Indiana has similar fond memories of filling the gym to root on their alma mater. Visit Indiana has even put together a number of resources including an online poll to determine the state's best high school gymnasiums, a look back at Indiana's best college basketball players of all time and a list of bucket list attractions for basketball fans.
As I started doing my research about Hendricks County basketball ties, some fun facts I didn't expect to find popped up. One of the most interesting included Hendricks County locations used in the iconic movie Hoosiers starring Gene Hackman, filmed in 1985.
I couldn't believe how many locations in Hendricks County were used as scenes in the movie. The next time you go back and watch, pay special attention to these:
- The College Avenue Gym in Brownsburg used for the Sectional Game in the movie (the gym was demolished in 1990).
- Amo seen during a rain-soaked scene on the night of the state finals.
- The interior of Principal Cletus’ home shot in a house on the west side of Danville.
- Myra and Opal Fleener’s property and the interior of Norman’s house filmed at a house built in 1847 on the southwest side of Danville.
- Shooter’s (the assistant coach played by Dennis Hopper) house also located in Danville, on the south side of town.
Top Hendricks County College Players
Since Indiana’s Mr. Basketball was in my graduating class at Richmond and played for Purdue, I thought I’d look into some players who went on to play NCAA Division I basketball in my current home county.
Brownsburg can probably boast having the most successful basketball alumni. They won the state title in 2008 with Gordon Hayward leading the way.
- Hayward went on to play for Butler helping the team to consecutive long tourney runs, then went to the NBA to play for the Utah Jazz, Boston Celtics and currently the Charlotte Hornets. He also was recently named one of Indiana's greatest college basketball players of all time by Visit Indiana.
- Julian Mavunga, one of Hayward's teammates at Brownsburg, also went on to play Division I basketball. He played for Miami of Ohio and is now playing professionally in Japan.
- Stephanie Mavunga, Julian’s little sister, was named Indiana’s Miss Basketball in 2013. She went on to play for the University of North Carolina and Ohio State and even played professionally for the WNBA Indiana Fever and Chicago Sky.
I turned to one of the Avon athletic trainers to get information about Avon alums:
- Chet Francis graduated from Avon in 1936, played for IU and was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.
- Austin Burgett graduated from Avon in 2012, played for Notre Dame and is currently playing professional basketball in Europe.
- Kaley May graduated from Avon in 2008, played for Butler and is now the head girls' basketball coach at Danville.
I contacted former Plainfield High School Coach Dana Greene, who recalled some successful Plainfield alums including:
- Greg Jones, 1978 Plainfield graduate who played one year at Oklahoma then transferred to Butler and played three years. Greg was an Indiana All Star and won the state high jump with a 7’-0” leap.
- Gavin Groninger was an Indiana All Star in 1999 and a member of the Plainfield State Championship team and then played four years at Michigan.
- Blake Metcalf graduated in 2009 from PHS and played at Albany College in NY. Albany won their conference and played in the NCAA tournament.
I also remembered Travis Carroll starring at Danville High School before graduating in 2010 and going on to play for the Purdue University's men's basketball team for four years.
Let us know if you know of anyone else I should have mentioned or if you have any memories of Indiana basketball that you would like to share. I know I can’t wait for the excitement of basketball to return to Indiana so we can show the world what Hoosier Hysteria is all about.