April 4, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.
Mr. Basketball clinic brings back old memories of hoops royalty
On this afternoon, the plan was meet up with - not one, not two but three former Mr. Basketballs in the same place at the same time. Lyndon Jones (co-Mr. Basketball, Marion High School 1987), Jay Edwards (co-Mr. Basketball, Marion 1987) and Woody Austin (Mr. Basketball, Richmond 1988) were scheduled to conduct (for the second year) a clinic at Hauser High School for young players.
All those with whom contact is made on a regular basis (including wife Linnda) would clearly attest to the fact that recalling something that happened "yesterday" or "last week" consistently presents hills too steep to climb. But ask something that happened decades ago on the courts of yesteryear, there is better than a fighting chance that details will come through loud and clear.
So on the 15-minute jaunt across County Roads 550 and 600 - Jones, Edwards and Austin dominated my thoughts.
Jones and Edwards had been part of a three-year run at Marion High School that resulted in back-to-back-to back IHSAA state titles. Only Franklin (I don't remember this streak), back close to 100 years ago, had ever accomplished this feat. It was the third (under the guidance of coach Bill Green) in the series that I remembered most clearly.
Marion had gotten to the final game after an afternoon win (back then, four teams made it to the Finals) over Bedford and its sensational freshman, Damon Bailey. In the title game, Marion prevailed over Richmond and its junior star, Woody Austin.
Those Marion games replay in my mind with clarity as do several Indiana University games. Jones played four years for Bob Knight. Edwards made a self-admittedly poor decision and left IU after his sophomore year with the hope of landing in the National Basketball Association. A career in the NBA never materialized, but that is another story within itself.
But Edwards was in Bloomington long enough to sink buzzer-beating last second shots on at least two occasions. At least ... I remember two. Jones was a consistent contributor for the Hoosiers for four years. He now works at Cummins and has for some time.
Memories of Austin are considerably dimmer and lack much detail. After high school graduation, Austin went on to Purdue where he played with teammate (now current PU coach) Matt Painter. As a former student and IU basketball fanatic (who has since switched allegiances to Butler) I primarily recall rooting against him.
Anyway, history gave way to current events when I pulled into the parking lot outside the "Jet Port" gymnasium. But, the lot was empty. There was no sign of activity. I figured I had again been victimized by my version ever-growing forgetfulness. The camp had probably been the previous Friday.
However, a nice young man inside the school suggested that maybe the clinic was taking place in the Fieldhouse (Hauser's second gym). A drive around the rear of the complex found a parking lot complete with cars. That was a relief.
Just two steps inside the door, the familiar sound of bouncing balls got the juices flowing again. My first glimpse of a Mr. Basketball was either Jones or Austin at midcourt. Mr. Basketball was clapping and shouting encouragement to the campers who were involved in some form of a relay race up-and-down the adjacent courts.
Edwards seemed to be missing (he had left earlier). It was Austin taking his turn at leading an activity. It was Jones who spotted the visitor and didn't hesitant to shake hands and introduce himself. He seemed genuinely excited that the visitor was a retired teacher/coach and was now a part time journalist visiting for the purpose of taking some pictures and writing his first story ever for a local online newspaper.
The one-day camp was winding down but youthful enthusiasm was still loud enough to echo off the walls. Young people - who seemed to range in age from elementary to high school - were cheering and rooting for teammates to sprint the floor and make a lay-up. Frustration caused by consecutive misses never transformed into a giving-up, discouraged attitude. Positive vibes from all directions would not allow it.
Finally, with little effort from the leaders, the campers took a seat quietly on the floor. With just a bit of prodding, most shared a fundamental he or she had learned. T-shirts and certificates were distributed. Group pictures were shot and a handful of parents were insistent on getting a picture of their child with one of the Mr. Basketballs.
When most of the camp participants had departed, it became the writer's turn to get a dose of up close and personal attention. Without hesitation, Jones provided the eldest in the building the opportunity.
The former Marion/IU star was asked how three Indiana Hall-of-Fame legends had found their way to tiny Hope. Jones's answer was pretty lengthy. The press could not write fast enough to keep up.
While very little in direct quotes were captured on paper, the spaced out reporter did at least capture the main idea.
Jones said he and his friends were at Hauser teaching their passion because they felt connected to the Hope community. Local athletic stalwarts Shawn Thayer and Jerry Schoen were mentioned as two folks with which there is a bond.
But the most pleasing comment without a doubt was Jones's promise to make a third trip to back to northeastern Bartholomew County in the near future.[[In-content Ad]]
November 29, 2023