Kentucky Basketball Hall of Fame unveils plans for museum

mfields@herald-leader.comNovember 20, 2013 

An architect's rendering of how the new Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame museum in downtown Elizabethtown will look.

  • Hall of Fame inductees

    Of the initial 100 Hall of Fame centennial honorees, 33 have been named:

    2013 inductees

    Alfred "Butch" Beard

    Howard Beth

    Mike Casey

    Larry Conley

    Johnny Cox

    Howard Crittenden

    Joe Fulks

    Sharon Garland

    Allan Houston

    William Kean

    Billy Ray Lickert

    Donna Murphy

    Letcher Norton

    Linville Puckett

    J.R. VanHoose

    Jaime Walz-Richey

    Bobby Watson

    2012 inductees

    Ralph Beard

    Roy Bowling

    Ralph Carlisle

    Rex Chapman

    "King" Kelly Coleman

    Richie Farmer

    Darrell Griffith

    Geri Grigsby

    Cliff Hagan

    Clem Haskins

    Clemette Haskins

    Wallace "Wah-Wah" Jones

    Bobby Keith

    Jim McDaniels

    S.T. Roach

    Wes Unseld

The Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame has evolved from just an idea four years ago, to the selection of its first centennial class members in 2012, to the unveiling on Wednesday of the architect's rendering of the hall of fame museum that will be in downtown Elizabethtown.

Mike Pollio, a former high school and college coach, is spearheading the drive to raise $4 million for the project. Former coaches Wayne Chapman, Hardin McLane and Steve Winkler are part of his fund-raising team.

Pollio announced Wednesday they have raised $350,000 since they began soliciting corporate and private donors in August.

"It's shameful that Indiana has a high school hall of fame and we don't," Pollio said.

"Kentucky is the No. 1 basketball state, I don't care what anybody says. When you have back-to-back (NCAA) national champions, and when you draw 116,000 people for a state tournament when other states get 2,000 a game, that shows we are the best."

Chapman said he joined the cause "because I'm astonished we don't have a hall of fame already. What great high school basketball we have is taken for granted."

The target date for completion of the project is 2018, the 100th anniversary of the first state tournament.

The hall of fame building's first phase in Elizabethtown will be the conversion of an 1872 church into part of the museum. That will cost about $1.2 million and should be completed in 2015.

"It'll be the cathedral of high school basketball," Pollio quipped. "It makes sense because basketball is almost a religion in Kentucky."

Pollio said the Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches, which came up with the idea of a hall of fame devoted strictly to high school hoops, "wants to make sure this won't be a staid museum. Once you see a ball, a pair of shoes and an old picture, you don't care about seeing them again. So there will be a lot more than just artifacts. We want it to be an interactive, hands-on place, and it will keep changing."

When the project was first announced, KABC executive director Ken Trivette said the hall of fame would accent the "essence of high school basketball and the life lessons it can teach."

Pollio noted that the history of the sport is also the history of Kentucky, dealing with issues such as integration and women's rights.

Pollio has approached state tourism officials about getting involved.

"We've got beautiful pictures of horses, bourbon, industry, agriculture, but what we're missing is what Kentucky is most famous for — basketball," Pollio said. "That should be a tourist attraction here."

Elizabethtown has thrown its support behind the hall of fame. The city's Convention and Visitors' Bureau has pledged $200,000.

Of the $4 million raised, $500,000 will be set aside as a service endowment to help cover operating costs.

So far 33 of the initial 100 Hall of Fame centennial honorees have been named.

Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337. Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes. Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com.

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