When Brian Gilpin and his family heard the news, the memories immediately came flooding back.
Gilpin’s father, Larry, 71, recalled the thrill in his son’s eyes on Friday nights as he tagged along during his 25-year career officiating high school basketball. It was the same zest he witnessed 28 years ago when his son’s No. 50 was called to come off the bench in his first varsity game in his freshman year.
There was that special tour the two took through the historic New Castle Fieldhouse before one of Larry’s games, back when Brian, only a grade-schooler, told his dad he wanted to play there some day.
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Brian reflected on his three consecutive sectional title runs at Mt. Vernon, the inspiration he gained from coach Jimmie Howell and the team’s regional championship season in 1991.
“It’s fantastic to have the memories. I actually have to applaud my parents, particularly my mother (Susan), she kept a lot Greenfield Daily Reporters from when I played,” Brian Gilpin said. “It was good to remember the games, looking through those clippings and remembering my teammates particularly. That’s the best part of team sports, and the memories we had along the way.”
Today, Gilpin, 44, will add another moment to cherish as a member of the 2017 Men’s Silver Anniversary Team announced by the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.
One of 18 men selected to the anniversary team, Gilpin, a 1992 Indiana All-Star at Mt. Vernon, will be recognized during a reception at the Hall of Fame Museum in New Castle before being honored at the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame Men’s Banquet this evening.
“There’s going to be immense pride to be a part of a group of guys that worked hard and have continued to love the game of basketball and what I think Indiana high school basketball represents,” Gilpin remarked on his distinction.
Gilpin will be joined today by various all-state standouts and 13 members of the 1992 Indiana All-Star team, including Mr. Basketball Charles Macon of Michigan City Elston, for their accomplishments as senior players 25 years ago.
A resident of Portsmouth, Rhode Island, where he and his wife, Bethany, live with their four children, Gilpin admits he doesn’t get to return to the Hoosier State often enough. But his trek west this week is special for the former Mt. Vernon star, who remains a gym rat despite being nearly two decades removed from the game.
Known in Hancock County as a lanky, if not too skinny, big man at 6-foot-11 and around 225 pounds, Giplin was a force during his illustrious career in Fortville from 1988-92. His playing time and reputation on coach Howell’s varsity team skyrocketed from the first season, much like his towering stature.
A 6-1 eighth-grader, Gilpin had two major growth spurts as a teenager, which he jokes required a new wardrobe almost daily. Shooting up to 6-7 by freshman year, the center hit his peak 4 inches later to become the program’s first boys Indiana All-Star.
Gilpin was only the second boys player from the county to wear the state’s coveted red, white and blue after Greenfield’s Mike Edwards in 1969 and sixth overall at the time, including boys and girls.
“That was a huge honor. The guys that were Indiana All-Stars before and since is a special class of guys,” Gilpin said. “Having a state that was so focused on one sport, you’re competing against a lot of guys and friends that didn’t make it who were really good players. It’s definitely special for me.”
In his high school career, Gilpin scored 932 points while the team went 80-19 in his four years and 69-9 in his final three seasons. He averaged 18.4 points and 7.2 rebounds as a senior to garner all-state honors, including a first-team nod from the Bloomington Herald Times.
He played in the Coca-Cola Classic, the Kentucky Derby Festival game and the 1991 Nike Elite Camp, among other showcases, but his fondest memories were Mt. Vernon’s most prolific seasons.
Only the second group in school history to win three straight sectional titles — the first occurring in 1985-87 — Gilpin’s squad dominated from 1990-92. The team reached its height in 1991, however, as Mt. Vernon charged to its first regional title in four years and the Indiana state tournament’s elite eight.
“We had a great team. We were probably the biggest team the county ever had and we went into our junior year, and I think we had some big expectations. I think we went well beyond what people even thought,” Gilpin recalled. “It was a whirlwind of what we were able to accomplish.”
Teamed with 6-7 senior Chad Kleine, feisty guard Roger Huffman, Alex Schank and Kevin Browning, Gilpin and the Marauders were magicians on the court.
In 1991, Mt. Vernon knocked off 10th-ranked Muncie South 57-51 in the morning session in front of an estimated 10,000 fans before beating South Decatur 55-49 to win the regional at New Castle.
At the semistate inside Hinkle Fieldhouse, Gilpin’s breakout game against Richmond led to a 75-73 victory and a championship game appearance. Gilpin poured in 17 points, had six blocks and seven rebounds.
“He always said he wanted to be the best ballplayer he could be,” Larry Gilpin said. “He was really proud of that group and having a great coach like Jimmie Howell.
“God gave him the height and God gave him the luck to be able to work on that gift. He pushed himself to be the best he could be and do it for the school.”
The Marauders fell one game short of a State Finals berth, however, losing to the Alan Henderson-led Brebeuf Jesuit Braves 73-58 to finish the year at 22-6, but the magic continued with another sectional title in 1992.
With Browning, Jeff Boyle and Gabe Muterspaugh at his side, Gilpin and the Marauders blew away Pendleton Heights 86-52 to seize the Greenfield-Central Sectional championship. The then-Indiana University commit posted a team-high 29 points.
Mt. Vernon pushed toward the Anderson Regional title next, but narrowly lost its bid at a repeat, 68-67, to 15th-ranked Muncie Central in a back-and-forth semifinal, finishing the year 22-3.
In typical Marauders fashion, the group almost willed itself to victory with nine seconds left as Gilpin nearly intercepted an inbound pass that trickled out of bounds.
“The only regret I have is running out of gas in the semifinals. The last pass in my last game in high school against Muncie Central; almost stole a pass and would have had an open layup to win the game,” Gilpin said. “It was just above my fingertips.”
A future in college basketball was far from out of reach, however.
The tallest in his family with his parents in the 5-8 and 5-10-range, Gilpin was originally destined for Bloomington, but after spending a year at New Hampton Prep School in New Hampshire, he eventually landed at Dartmouth College in the Ivy League.
There he found his game, recording 1,043 career points, 641 rebounds and 252 blocked shots to set school and league career records for blocks. His conference career record stood until 2015 when Brown’s Cedric Kuakumensah surpassed Gilpin. He still holds Dartmouth’s single season mark at 92.
In Gilpin’s final season at Dartmouth, he averaged 12.3 points, 2.7 blocks and 6.8 rebounds. He was named two-time All-Ivy League honorable mention and two-time second-team All-Ivy League. He later played one year overseas in Portugal with Fisica from 1997-98.
“Ultimately, the goal was to play professional basketball somewhere, but I just couldn’t gain weight. I think I graduated at around 225, maybe out of college 230. Not a lick of fat on me,” Gilpin said. “With the NBA game at the time, I probably would have needed another 20 pounds on me, but it was physically not possible.
“It’s a different experience when you start playing for money. The camaraderie isn’t quite the same, but it was still fun. I just felt it was time to move on.”
Now, he runs the floor about three days a week in an “old man’s league” at the YMCA in Newport, where several former college athletes gather at 5:45 a.m. to relive the past and stay in shape. Not as quick or explosive, Gilpin said he can still throw it down.
“I did two weeks ago,” said Gilpin, who is vice president of Capital Markets for Embrace Home Loans in Rhode Island. “I test myself every once in a while. It takes a lot more energy. It’s one-hand these days. Two hands are little bit tougher.”
Finding those to credit for today’s ceremony spotlight won’t be too difficult. Thankful to coach Howell and his former Mt. Vernon teammates, who he stays connected with on social media, his success, he says, stems from his parents and those games nights at his dad’s side.
“I gravitated to basketball at an early age,” Gilpin said. “My father was a high school official, and funny story, he was actually reffing a game the night I was born. A state policeman had to go and get him off the court when my mother went into labor, so I loved basketball from day one. I was kind of born into it.”
2017 Men’s Silver Anniversary Team
Mike Brooks;Ben Davis
Alan Bush;Bedford North Lawrence
Matt Delinger;F.W. Concordia
Brian Gilpin;Mt. Vernon (Fortville)
Richie Hammel;Lafayette Jeff
Steve Hart;Terre Haute South
Charles Macon;Michigan City Elston
Walter McCarty;Evansville Harrison
Chris Miskel;Bloomington South
Brandt Schuckman;Vincennes Lincoln
High School: Mt. Vernon (1992)
College: Dartmouth College (1997)
• 1992 Indiana All-Star
• 932 career points scored
• Led Mt. Vernon to 80-19 record in four years and 69-9 in final three
• Averaged 18.4 points and 7.2 rebounds as a senior
• Named Bloomington Herald Times First-Team All-State, Second-Team All-State by Coaches and Third-Team All-State by The Associated Press
• Won three sectionals and 1991 regional title (Elite Eight)
• Finished with 1,043 points, 641 rebounds and 252 blocks
• Set school record for blocks in a season (92) and career blocks (252)
• Held career blocked shots records (252) for Ivy League until 2015
• Named two-time All-Ivy League honorable mention, two-time Second-Team All-Ivy League