Former Plainville hoops great elected to Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame

Former Plainville High School coach Kenneth "Tot" Nelson (left) talks to one of his star players for the Midgets, Lloyd Bateman, during a 50th reunion of the Nelson years at Plainville in December, 2006. Bateman was announced on Monday as a member of the 2008 Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame induction class---File photo by Mike Myers.

Fifty years ago, Plainville High School’s Lloyd Bateman was a giant among Midgets.

In March, Bateman will take his rightful place among the giants of Hoosier Hysteria.

The first prep player in the history of Indiana High School basketball to score 2,000 points in a career and the star of Plainville’s highly successful teams of the mid-1950s, Bateman was one of 14 members of the 2008 Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame class announced on Monday.

Bateman, who entered the military rather than continue on to college after high school, is now retired and living in Knox County. He learned more than a week ago from the person who has worked for years on Bateman’s nomination, former Plainville teammate Jerry Osmon, that he had been elected to the Hall.

“I was really excited,” remembered Bateman. “I said ‘Praise the Lord.’”

Osmon, a retired teacher and coach from North Daviess High School, and former South Knox boys basketball coach Hugh Schaefer, a noted Southwest Indiana basketball historian, have worked tirelessly since 1997 on Bateman’s Hall nomination.

In addition, Hall of Fame coach Jack Butcher of Loogootee traveled to the Hall this fall and personally spoke on Bateman’s behalf before the Hall of Fame committee. Bateman just missed election a year ago, then made it on the first ballot this year.

Osmon and Bateman have been friends for more than 50 years since their playing days at Plainville.

“Jerry’s a good buddy. He’s always been there for me,” Bateman said of Osmon.

Bateman was dominant during his four-year career at Plainville from 1954-58. He towered over opposing players during the days when his 6-5 frame was more equivalent to a 7-0 player in today’s game. In addition to his height advantage, Bateman had a nice shooting touch both on his jump shot and from the free throw line.

Bateman finished his career in 1958 with a then state record 2,078 points, a higher total than several of the biggest names in Indiana High School basketball history, including George McGinnis, Oscar Robertson, and Kent Benson, all of whom were named Mr. Basketball.

Bateman scored a career high 53 points against Lyons in a game during his sophomore season, a contest from which, like many games during his career, Bateman was pulled early in the fourth quarter by Plainville coach Kenneth “Tot” Nelson because the Midgets had a large lead.

With Nelson — who came to Plainville prior to the 1954-55 season, Bateman’s freshman year, and left after Bateman graduated in 1958 — on the sidelines and Bateman in the pivot, the Midgets were 82-14 (85 percent) over that four-year period. Included in that mark was a 65-55 sectional championship game win over Washington in 1956, Bateman’s sophomore season, when the purple and gold clad Midgets finished 25-4.

After finding out of his election, Bateman called Nelson, who went on to coach at Newburgh (now Castle) High School for many years and is now retired and living in Chandler, Ind. Contacted by phone last Friday, Nelson said he is “really proud and excited” for Bateman, the first the players he coached to be elected to the Hall.

“It’s a shame Lloyd had to wait this long to get recognized,” said Nelson. “But I’m just really proud and excited to see him get the recognition he deserves for what he accomplished. There are a lot of coaches in the state who never get to coach a hall of fame player.”

When asked about his playing days, Bateman says two wins over Washington, the first in the 1956 sectional and a 44-42 win over the Hatchets at Washington early in Bateman’s senior season, 1957-58, stand out.

“I always enjoyed beating the Hatchets,” recalled Bateman last week. “They would never play us on our floor, so we had to go down there and play, and we beat’em.”

Washington did defeat the Midgets in the 1958 sectional 81-70, but the Midgets were without Bateman, who reached his 20th birthday late in 1957-58 season and was ineligible for the sectional.

Bateman is the first player from Plainville or the other schools — Odon and Elnora — that consolidated in 1968 to form present day North Daviess High School to be elected to the Hall of Fame. Former Evansville Bosse head coach and 1968 Hall inductee Herman Keller, who led the Bulldogs to back-to-back state titles in 1944 and 1945, coached at Plainville in the late 1920s.

Other notable members of the 2008 class include Junior Bridgeman of the 1971 undefeated state title team from East Chicago Washington who went to play at the University of Louisville; John Coalman, the 1957 Mr. Basketball who played on an undefeated state champion from South Bend Central in 1957; and the late Jim Hammel, who coached Lake Central to the 1984 state title, then went on to lead Lafayette Jeff to the state finals in 1992 and 1996.

The rest of the class consists of (with high school and graduation year in parenthesis) Larry Bullington (Indianapolis Marshall, 1970); Jim Callane (Rushville, 1960); Steve Collier (Southwestern, 1974); Jim East (Selma, 1958); John Hines (Ft. Wayne South, 1938); Steve Lochmueller (Tell City, 1971); Tony Miller (Garrett, 1969); Bill Patrick (Sidney, 1956); Jim Price (Indianapolis Tech, 1968); and Hugh Thimlar (Royal Center, 1943). In addition, former Indiana-Kentucky All-Star game director Pat Aikman will receive the Silver Medal award for 2008.

The formal induction ceremony for the 2008 class will be at Primo Banquet Hall in Indianapolis on March 19. Tickets for the banquet will be available early next year and can be purchased from the Hall of Fame at 765-529-1891.

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