Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Sports

December 1, 2008

HALL of FAME: Ted Kitchel

He left mark of a champion at Cass, IU

Ted Kitchel has always maintained that the benchmark of his basketball career wasn’t Indiana’s 1981 NCAA championship team as many would think. Rather, it was playing a major role in Lewis Cass High School capturing its first IHSAA Sectional Basketball title in 1978.

Now, Kitchel has another honor that crowds in somewhere near the top of his list of accomplishments. It was announced Monday that he had joined 13 others as members of the 2009 class of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

Kitchel, standing alongside fellow IU basketball standouts Steve Alford, Wayne Radford and Steve Bouchie, will be inducted March 25 in Indianapolis.

“I’m not really sure where [the induction] fits in,” Kitchel said. “I don’t look at myself as a Hall of Fame guy. When I look at the Hall of Fame, I think of the absolute greats — John Wooden, Jimmy Rayl and George McGinnis. This is a great honor, but I don’t put myself in that category.”

Obviously many, including those who voted him into the Indiana University Hall of Fame in 1996, would disagree. He may in fact be the perfect prototype of an Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame inductee.

Kitchel grew up on a rural Cass County farm and honed his skills in what he described as a tool shed with a cement floor where a hoop was perched among the rafters. He said he still remembers the poor lighting, dirty basketball and near-choking fumes from an indoor heater used during cold weather.

“I was the true State Farm Insurance kid,” Kitchel said with a laugh, recalling the commercials the company aired before Indiana basketball broadcasts several years ago.

Those hours spent shooting paid off in championships at the highest levels.

Kitchel graduated from Cass in 1978 and remains today the school’s most famous alumni. In his senior season, he averaged 26.2 points and 13 rebounds in leading the Kings to a 20-0 record. That team continued on to win the school’s first single class sectional crown and Kitchel graduated as the program’s all-time leading scorer with 1,630 points.

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