Ralph Jones - Early Years - State of Indiana

State of Indiana

Jones was an integral part of the development of high school basketball in Indiana and a successful college coach at Purdue and Illinois. He was the recipient of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame's inaugural Centennial Award on November 27, 2010. It is believed that Jones was the first high school basketball coach in the state of Indiana. While still a high school student, he organized the team at Indianapolis Shortridge High School in 1899 — the first high school team in Indiana. Jones led the Indianapolis YMCA to statewide prominence, and then led the Crawfordsville YMCA, both of which claimed state YMCA championships under his guidance. Due to his success with YMCA-based leagues, Butler University contracted Jones to coach basketball for the 1903-04 season. This was the first "official" head coaching job in the long and successful career Jones would continue for the next 30 years.

Jones continued his coaching at Crawfordsville, this time at the local high school and additionally took on the head coaching duties of Wabash College. His teams at both institutions featured Hall of Fame inductees Ward "Piggy" Lambert, Pete Vaughn and David Glascock, with the 1906-07 Crawfordsville squad finishing 12-0 (prior to the first high school state tournament) and his 1907-08 Wabash team going 24-0. While at Wabash, his team was selected from only 300 students, yet in five years lost only four games, twice to Notre Dame and once to Purdue. Known as the "Little Giants", Jones's Wabash teams compiled a record of 75–6 and defeated teams from much larger institutions, including Illinois, Purdue, Indiana, Minnesota and Notre Dame. During this same time period, Jones's Crawfordsville High School teams lost only one game.

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