|Apple’s hoops career comes full circle
By CHAD FLEETWOOD
You can’t talk Salem High School basketball without Jimmy Apple’s name eventually coming up. He enjoyed the kind of high school career kids that grow up in small-town Indiana dream about, and capped his senior season by being selected as an Indiana All-Star, the same year that all five of Marion High School’s starters made the team. Apple averaged 31.1 points per game during the final campaign of his high school career, second best in the state in 1987, and he held just about every record in the SHS books when he graduated. By all accounts, the kid could flat-out shoot a basketball.
Apple was one of 18 former Hoosier high school standouts recently honored as a member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame’s 2012 Silver Anniversary Team.
Jerry Warriner, who was the Lions’ head coach during Apple’s tenure, said his star sharpshooter started garning attention from a host of college coaches during his junior season.
“A lot of college coaches looked at him. He became the second player ever at Salem to tally 1,000 or more career points, and finished his career with 1,745-and he played during an era when all field goals counted for two points. There was no 3-point line back then,” Warner explained. “A lot of the scouts that came and watched him said we needed to get him 30 shots a game his senior year, and he didn’t shoot that much. He obviously took his share of shots, but he didn’t come close to shooting 30 times a game.”
Warner said he didn’t start Apple the first couple games of his career “because he was a freshman and we wanted him to earn it.” Apple did just that when he hit a last second shot to beat West Washington in the third game of his freshman year. He started every game after that, 85 straight contests altogether.
Warriner said he knew what kind of player Apple was going to be long before he ever made it to high school.
“We were neighbors in Fair Acres at one point, and there was a goal in the cul-de-sac in front of my house. He was out there in sixth grade shooting every day. We woke up to the thud of a basketball hitting the backboard and went to bed hearing that same sound,” he laughed. “It’s always nice to see kids with that kind of potential coming through. You had to run him out of the gym. He was just such a perfectionist in everything he did.”
Apple’s work ethic carried over from the court to the classroom. He graduated with a 4.0 grade point average and was co-valedictorian of his class. When it came time to decide where he attend college, he settled on William and Mary. Though he chose schools based more on academics than athletics, Apple enjoyed a successful collegiate basketball career. He scored 1,017 points and earned three letters as a member of the Tribe. He has a doctorate in Buddhist Studies and is an Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada.
Warner taught at SHS for 37 years and served two coaching stints from 1980-88 and 1998-2000. In all those years around student-athletes, Warner said those like Apple are few and far between.
“It was an honor to coach him, he was just one of those players that come along every now and then. He was always for the team…I really think he would have forsaken every one of his individual awards to win.”
He and Apple are still in touch, and Warner attended the ceremony and banquet and said Jimmy stops by to visit when he’s in town, as many of his former players do.
Apple said his experiences at SHS helped shape him into the man he’s become.
“I am very thankful for the education I received at Salem High School. I had a number of excellent coaches and teachers who influenced me in a variety of ways as a student-athlete. What immediately comes to mind is the habit of daily discipline to accomplish small goals that have the potential to result in larger accomplishments,” he explained. “Whether studying academic subjects or practicing basketball, I always had a number of training routines that helped to refine my skills. The coaches and teachers I had at Salem influenced me to improve myself on a daily basis.”
Apple said being selected for the IHSAA’s Silver Anniversary team was a humbling experience.
“It means a great amount to me to be selected for the Silver Anniversary team. Indiana has a great heritage of high school basketball and I am very grateful and thankful to be a part of that heritage. In my memories there is nothing like Indiana High School Basketball-the devoted fans in the stands, the high school band playing live music, the wood floors, the smell of popcorn, and the intense atmosphere of playing basketball in large arenas are things I will always remember, he said. “When I was at the awards ceremony in Indianapolis, I was so thankful that I was in the presence of all these great Indiana basketball players and that my parents, family, and former coaches were in the crowd to witness the event.”
In hindsight, he said academics and athletics demand a large measure of mental toughness.
“Learning and studying has been a part of my life since I was a young child. Both academics and athletics are tough, highly competitive, and take a lot of hard work. Both involve a great amount of mental training and that is perhaps the most difficult thing-developing mental qualities such as perseverance, patience, and fortitude that enable one to gain victories in life.”