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The Splendid Splinter

Written By: Bill Murphy 11/1/2018

As Indiana approaches, the 2018-2019 season and the much heralded freshmen in the person of Romeo Langford steps onto the court vs Chicago State in his first regular season game.  We look back to another much-heralded Indiana high school legend from Kokomo, IN native Jimmy Rayl.  Rayl would come to Indiana as part of a much anticipated recruiting class including the likes of Fort Wayne's Tom Bolyard, New Castle's Ray Pavy, and 6-10 Winston Fairfield from Wilmington, Massachusetts among others. Rayl and Pavy had been part of the famous Church Street shootout between Kokomo and New Castle. Rayl would score 49 and Pavy 51 in that game. However, Rayl would be the one to win the state scoring title and be named Indiana's Mr. basketball. During the senior season of his high school career, Rayl would lead Kokomo to the state finals while scoring 114 points in the final four tournament games to break the Big O, Oscar Robertson's, scoring record. 

In Rayl's first game as a Hoosier, he would score 12 points against Indiana State in a 80-53 Hoosier victory as Indiana played its first game in the "New Fieldhouse ". Rayl would again score 12 points against DePaul on January 28 in a 81-78 Indiana win. But double-figure scoring would be few and far between for Rayl in his sophomore year.  On the season, Rayl appeared in 20 of Indiana's 24 games, scoring 79 points for a 4.0 scoring average on 30% shooting from the field and 50%, 11 of 22, from the line. This was not what Hoosier fans had expected from the Kokomo hot shot. During Rayl's first season fellow sophomore Tom Bolyard averaged 15.5 points a game second on the team behind Hall of Famer Walt Bellamy.

After his first year, Rayl thought about leaving Indiana but decided to stay Rayl would be rewarded for his decision in his junior year after an opening game against Drake when Rayl scored 14 points. The flood gates of scoring would open up for Jimmy as he poured in 34 points against New Mexico State. On the season, he would score 20 or more points in 19 of 24 games and 30 or more in 12 of those games.  But by far the highlight of the season for Rayl would take place on January 27, 1962 when Rayl would lead Indiana past Minnesota in overtime.  The Golden Gophers would go up by one point in the closing moments of the game after a Minnesota basket. Rayl would take the ball up the court cross over the mid-court stripe and within seconds fire off a 30-35 foot jump shot at the buzzer. The ball would travel through the net giving Rayl points number 55 and 56, and the Hoosiers a 105-104 overtime victory.  So special was that shot that a picture of Rayl being carried off the court by his teammates would appear on Indiana's basketball schedule for the next season. To this day, that basketball is on display at Rayl's home in Kokomo. On the season Rayl averaged 29.8 points a game on 43% shooting from the field and 83% from the free throw line. Rayl would score 714 points on the season the third most all time in Hoosier history.  

     In his senior season, Rayl continued his assault on Indiana and Big Ten history. On opening night December 1,1962 Indiana played Virginia and Rayl  connected on 13 field goals and 9 free throws for 35 points as Indiana won 90-59. On the season, Rayl scored over 30 points on six occasions and more then 20 points in 13 out of 24 games. But, again, Rayl was not done breaking barriers in scoring. On January 5, Rayl scored 44 points against Michigan State in a Hoosier 96-84 win. In Bloomington on February 23, 1963 Rayl set new heights hitting 23 baskets and 10 free throws for 56 points in a 113 to 94 Indiana win. However, what really stood out that game was the fact Rayl took 48 shots from the field and left with over three minutes remaining in the game. Rayl would later say had there been three points he could have scored 80 points that night for 17 shots made where from today's three point  line  and had he remained in the game in the last 3  minutes he would have scored 7 more points. Rayl would also say if Knight coached Indiana forever his record 48 shots in a game would never be broken. On the season Rayl would average over 25 points a game. The Hoosier Hot Shot would prove to be just that earning All American and All Big Ten honors in both his junior and senior year.