Sixteen of the biggest names in Kentucky high school basketball history were honored on Saturday as the new Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame inducted its first members. The event was held at the Historic State Theater in downtown Elizabethtown.
There were quite a few familiar names from this part of the state included in the inaugural class.
— Harlan’s Wallace “Wah-Wah” Jones is generally regarded as one of the greatest all-around athletes ever produced in Kentucky. Playing for the Green Dragons, Wallace scored 2,398 career points — then a national record — and was a first team All-State selection three times. His Harlan teams made four trips to the state tournament and won the title in 1944. Walace was also an All-State performer in football and baseball.
Jones’ post-high school career was equally phenomenal as he was an All-American at the University of Kentucky as part of “The Fabulous Five,” winning both an NCAA championship and an Olympic gold medal in 1948.
— Richie Farmer helped lead Clay County to five state tournaments and three state championship games during his career with the Tigers from 1984 through 1988, including the 1987 state championship team. Farmer broke numerous scoring records along the way and put up 52 points in a losing effort in the 1988 title game. That year he was named Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball and was an All-State selection three times. He went on to play for the University of Kentucky.
— Clay County coach Bobby Keith mentored all of those Farmer teams during his 27-year career with the Tigers. Keith guided Clay County to 767 wins and a state record 18 Sweet 16 appearances, including seven straight from 1984 to 1990, and that 1997 state championship.
Five times Coach Keith has been honored as the Kentucky High School Coach of the Year. He was named Kentucky Coach of the Decade for the 1980s as well as being recognized as National Coach of the Year in his tenure as the Tiger’s head coach.
— Coach Roy Bowling guided the Laurel County Lady Cardinals form 1974 through the 1989 season. During those 15 years his teams would compile a record of 403-61 while winning 19 district, eight regional and four state titles in 1977, 1978, 1979 and 1987.
Bowling finished his High School coaching career by building a successful program at Louisville Mercy High.
Rounding out the 2012 inductees are players Rex Chapman, Apollo (1982-86); Wes Unseld, Seneca (1961-1964); Ralph Beard, Male (1941-1945); “King” Kelly Coleman, Wayland (1952-1956); Clem Haskins, Campbellsville Durham (1959-1961), Taylor County (1962-1963); Cliff Hagan, Owensboro (1945-1949); Jim McDaniels, Allen County (1963-1967); Darrell Griffith, Male (1972-1976); Geri Grigsby, McDowell (1975-1977); and Clemette Haskins, Warren Central (1979-1983); along with coaches S.T. Roach, Dunbar boys (1943-1965); and Ralph Carlisle, Lafayette boys (1945-1961).
The Hall of Fame will host the Tip-Off Classic at T.K. Stone’s gymnasium in Elizabethtown on Nov. 23-24 and will also be visiting each school – or community, if the school is no longer open – to present it with the framed picture of the inductee during the upcoming basketball season.
The next class of the first 100 inductees will be announced the week of the Boys’ Sweet Sixteen. The plan for the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame is to reach 100 inductees by 2018, the 100-year anniversary of the first boys’ state tournament.