GREENFIELD — When asked about Greenfield-Central standout Tate Hall’s daily gym routine, head coach Michael Lewis paused for a second before responding with his own inquiry.
“I think the better question would be, ‘When was he not in there?’” the Cougars’ varsity boys basketball coach joked. “Tate is the type of kid you had to kick out. I’ve never been around a kid so dedicated to improvement.”
Lewis needed even less time to express another more obvious statement. He’s never been around a person quite like Hall — ever.
“He’s a one-of-a-kind kid,” Lewis elaborated. “The first thing that stuck out to me about Tate when I got here two years ago was his hunger to get better and his hunger to be coached. Tate is the type of kid that is never satisfied.”
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Known to take five steps forward when told to take four, Hall prides himself on working harder than anyone. It’s an instinctive trait, one he used to transform his game from would-be to could-be over the course of four years.
Resilience learned from back-to-back five-win seasons before Lewis’ arrival in 2014-15 and a 10-15 swing in the right direction taught him humility. His faith in the process strengthened his drive.
“It came from the past. We didn’t win that many games, and I really wanted to win,” Hall said. “From being in a hole those past seasons, it motivated me to become the best I could.”
As the 2015-16 All-County Boys Basketball Player of the Year, voted upon by the area coaches and the Daily Reporter sports staff, Hall stands alone.
But it almost didn’t happen.
Making a choice
“I had people in both of my ears telling me I had potential,” Hall recalled. “I had a tough decision to make.”As a grade-schooler, like most his age, Hall had few worries. Having fun was the only concern he had both on the baseball diamond and the basketball court.
He started firing left-handed jumpers when he was 4 at what’s now known as Best Choice Fieldhouse in Fishers.
In the summers, he spent his days shagging fly balls as an outfielder, swinging for the fences whenever given the green light before maturing into a budding hard-throwing pitcher with a mid-80s fastball as a teenager.
Once basketball season ended, off came the high-tops and on went the spikes. The routine was seamless until the end of his junior basketball season at Greenfield-Central.
His coaches on both sides delivered the same message — but he had a specific plan for his future.
“I really wanted to get my school paid for,” Hall said. “I have a love for both games, so it was difficult. It was hard to give one up, but I made the right choice.”
Crunching the numbers, the final equation favored hoops.
Full rides in baseball were a rare commodity, even for a lefty. Due to limitations, most college baseball programs could only offer partial scholarships.
Hall knew what he had to do.
Putting his high school baseball career at Greenfield-Central on hiatus last spring and parting ways with the Indiana Bulls, his summer baseball travel team, Hall dedicated himself to basketball.
He joined Grassroots Indiana and dove into the AAU circuit on their U17 squad full time, the first offseason the 6-foot-6 wing ever traveled the state and country to play high-level hoops outside high school.
“He understood that if his dream was to go and play college basketball that he needed to put himself in position where people were going to notice him,” Lewis said. “AAU was definitely that platform for him.
“I still think he would have been an excellent basketball player regardless, but with the nature of the game anymore, it’s difficult to get the level of offers he received if you’re just playing high school basketball.”
Hall initially picked up his first college offer from Northern Kentucky the fall before his junior basketball season. After the Cougars finished up with a 48-44 sectional loss to Anderson, the University of Indianapolis contacted him with an offer in May.The exposure gained through AAU elevated his stock even more, netting another offer from Maryville in St. Louis and interest from Nova Southeastern, Northern Illinois, Alabama-Huntsville, Western Illinois, and UNC-Greensboro.While at the Adidas Invitational in Indianapolis last summer, he grabbed the attention of Lipscomb and Hillsdale.
By the start of his senior year, he added Rockhurst, Christian Brothers, Army and Wisconsin-Green Bay to his list.
His ability to play inside and out attracted the scouts, said Lewis.
Hall averaged 15.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game as a junior. In his first full varsity season as a sophomore, he contributed 14.8 points per game. In 25 contests last season, Hall reached 26 points twice.
Through three seasons, he sank 36 percent of his 3-point attempts (139 of 381).
Named a two-time All- Hancock County and All-Hoosier Heritage Conference First-Team selection at that point, he also was an Indiana Basketball Coaches Association All-State honorable mention.
Off the court, he displayed a similar work ethic as a member of the National Honor Society with a 3.9 GPA.
His family lineage didn’t hurt matters either.
His mother, Noelle (Young) Hall was an Indiana All-Star at Rushville and played at Indiana University from 1984-86.
The two-year letter-winner’s best season was in 1985-86 with coach Jorja Hoehn. As a starter, she averaged 7.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per game while shooting 62 percent from the field.
While Hall sorted through his potential future paths, his mother became more than his biggest fan. She was his guide.
“I wanted to continue the legacy of the Hall family,” he said. “She really taught me a lot about the recruiting process and about my overall game. I cherish that and wanted to move on and do what she did.”
For love of the game
Once the pen in his hand touched his national letter of intent during the early signing period in November, Hall admits all his worries dissipated.Making the University of Indianapolis and head coach Stan Gouard his final choice, the senior could breathe again and locked in on his top priority.“Getting college out of the way helped,” Hall said. “I went into my last year really loose. I could play free. I didn’t worry about my scoring and really went in just wanting to win.”
In preparation for his final season, he lived in the weight room, putting on 20 pounds, though Lewis only asked him to add 15. Hall spent time at The Academy of Basketball in Indianapolis, training with Brian Hahn and Jim Dunham.
He also reunited with his friends and classmates, the catalyst behind the Cougars’ success in 2015-16.
Teammates with Gage Mann, Blake Robertson and Jack VanDuyn since the third grade, Hall connected with Chandler Bean along the way while Kirill Schoellman joined the group last season.
“This year was one of the most memorable. It was great to play with my guys, the same guys I’ve been playing with since the sixth and seventh grade,” Hall said. “I wanted to have a good year one last time before stepping away, so I had a lot of fun with it.”
The final tour opened with a 4-0 start to the season and ended with an 11-game winning streak before losing, 50-40, to eventual Class 4A Sectional 9 champion Connersville on March 4.
In the process, Hall broke the 1,000-point plateau, finishing his career with 1,315 points, which ranks him fourth on the program’s all-time list behind John Hamilton (2,064), Keegan Carmony (1,463) and Rhett Reed (1,369).
He led the team in rebounding with 194, putting him at 458 in his career at 10th all time in program history. Hall’s 42 made 3-pointers pushed his career total to 181, which overtook Hamilton (179) for the all-time mark.
More significant, however, Hall said, the team tied the school record for wins in a single season by going 20-5, the Cougars’ first winning season since 2003-04.
“He was the catalyst that sparked the culture change. He enjoys the accolades, but ultimately, he wanted to be remembered as a winner,” Lewis said. “I don’t think anyone can deny that he’s done that.”
Leaving behind a legacy
Just two weeks removed from his last high school game and back on the diamond for one more spring, Hall enjoys reminiscing.Averaging a career-best 18.3 points per game to lead the county in points at 458, he posted seven double doubles and scored a single-game high 27 points three times.His thoughts don’t gravitate to specific shots or layups, the wins or the losses, they center around the Greenfield-Central gym, the same place Lewis calls his star player’s second home.
“We had to work for everything. Nothing was going to be given to us,” Hall said. “That was our approach this season. We went in every day and grinded it out no matter how we might have felt that day. We had to do it to reach our goals.”
And it didn’t always reflect what the scoreboard read.
“A lot of the younger kids look up to us, and we really wanted people to remember us. We wanted them to remember this team and what we did,” Hall continued. “Leaving a legacy was big.”
Lewis has no doubt the imprint left behind by Hall and the seniors will be difficult to forget.
“People see the points and the records, but more than anything, it’s the body of work,” Lewis said. “I don’t think people understand all the hours that were put in behind the scenes to get an accomplishment like that.
“Tate and those guys helped lay out the expectation, and I think the younger guys will be eager to work. A lot of players will want to follow in those footsteps.”
College Commitment: University of Indianapolis
AAU Team: Grassroots Indiana
Parents: Rob and Noelle (Young) Hall
Siblings: Taylor Hall (IUPUI), sister
Favorite Movie: “The Longest Yard”
When I’m not playing basketball: “I hang out with my friends. We play a lot of video games.”
I am always pulling for the: Indiana Hoosiers
Favorite NBA player: Kobe Bryant
Career Accolades: Fourth all time in Greenfield-Central career scoring with 1,315 points … 10th all time in career rebounding with 458 … Career leader in 3-pointers made with 181 … Named a three-time All-Hancock County and All-Hoosier Heritage Conference First-Team selection … Indiana Basketball Coaches Association All-State honorable mention.