Earl Brown Newest Golden Eagle Inducted Into The Grant County Hall Of Fame

Posted on April 8, 2015 in Boy's Basketball, News, Winter Sports

When Earl Brown takes his place in the Grant County Sports Hall of Fame, the former Oak Hill star will stand with four other all-time boys’ basketball greats for enshrinement.

Among his fellow inductees are two Indiana Mr. Basketballs, Pat Klein (1950) and Jay Edwards (1987), as well as Bob Chapman from the 1926 Marion state champion team and Ronnie Horn of Mississinewa. Edwards and Horn played in the NBA, and Brown joined both on the 15-member Chronicle-Tribune All-Century Team named in 2000.

Brown led Oak Hill, then a brand new consolidation of Sweetser and Converse, to back-to-back sectional championships in 1960 and 1961 and went on to start two seasons for the Purdue University men’s basketball team. After college, Brown coached high school teams for five years before entering into full-time farming.

“It’s going to be real nice,” Brown said of his induction beginning around 2:15 p.m. Sunday at the Grant County YMCA. “I’m glad that I’m not too old where people can still remember back that far.”

Brown played his last competitive basketball game 50 years ago and plenty has changed in that time. For starters, his college recruiting process was much different than today’s players who in some cases are tracked as early as seventh grade.

“I didn’t even know if I was good enough to play at anyplace,” Brown said. “Purdue had written my coach, Mr. (Phil) McCarter, that they had interest. I didn’t even know until Mr. McCarter gave me a shoe box full of letters after my senior season, and that was the first I knew they had interest. (College) coaches weren’t allowed to talk to (high school) players back then.”

At Purdue, Brown helped the Boilermakers to a pair of third-place Big Ten Conference finishes. In those days, only the Big Ten champion was invited to the NCAA Tournament, and Brown and the Boilers missed out on the big dance.

Yet Brown had some memorable moments like scoring his collegiate career high of 26 points while matched up against Indiana University’s Tom and Dick Van Arsdale. Another of his most memorable games was when Purdue defeated Big Ten Champion Michigan in Ann Arbor and he defended all-American Cazzie Russell.

Brown started his freshman and sophomore years for Sweetser High School before the Braves joined forces with the Converse Bordermen for the 1959-60 season. He went on to earn 11 letters in high school in basketball, cross country and track and field.

“We didn’t know much about the Converse players because we traveled in different circles,” he said. “The first year I went to school in Sweetser, we practiced in Converse and played our home games in Swayzee. When they put us together for Oak Hill athletics that was the only way we knew anything about them.”

Before returning to farming, Brown was head football and baseball coach three years at Montmorenci, now part of Benton Central, and was on the football and baseball coaching staffs for two years at Maconaquah. Brown never played either sport in high school or college.

“I loved the game of basketball … and I enjoyed working with the other players, too,” Brown said. “The reason I got into coaching was I enjoyed working with the kids and help them get better, and I was able to do that.” 

Others who will be inducted are Steve Brooks, Vonda Cawthorn, Bob Davenport, Bob Holloway, Bob Lee and Gene Linn. The Marion 1991 state champion boys’ tennis team and the Twin City Bankers circa 1958-72 also will be enshrined. Banquet tickets are no longer available but the induction ceremony is open to the public.

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