A conversation with Herald's Babcock McGraw, newest Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame member

Updated 5/21/2017 8:48 AM
  • Quite a few members of the Culver Academies "family" were on hand for Patricia Babcock McGraw's induction into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. She is the school's all-time leading scorer in basketball.

      Quite a few members of the Culver Academies "family" were on hand for Patricia Babcock McGraw's induction into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. She is the school's all-time leading scorer in basketball. Patricia Babcock McGraw | Staff Photographer

  • A look at one wing of the two-story Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in New Castle.

      A look at one wing of the two-story Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in New Castle. Tom Quinlan | Staff Photographer

She has a jersey for being named Miss Indiana Basketball in 1990 and several more awards from her days as an All-Big Ten performer at Northwestern, but now Patricia Babcock McGraw can add three more letters to her sports resume: HOF.

Last month, Trish, as she's known to her Daily Herald colleagues, was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in New Castle, Indiana, with 10 other individuals in the Class of 2017.

Her numbers explain why. She was a three-time all-state selection and a Parade All-American who scored 2,199 career points at Culver Academies, graduating as the state's No. 2 all-time scorer in Indiana girls basketball history. She averaged 26.8 points, 13.2 rebounds and 3.6 blocks at Culver, then spent four years at Northwestern University, where she ranked among career leaders in points (1,353), rebounds (813) and field goal percentage (.546) and helped the Wildcats make two NCAA appearances.

Now a Daily Herald columnist and sports writer, we asked her to share her thoughts on the honor, Indiana basketball, and what motivated her along the way.

Q. What surprised you the most when you visited the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame the first time?

A. I was floored by how well done it was, a beautiful, modern, architecturally interesting building that was all about celebrating the past. I couldn't believe how much memorabilia is there: banners, jerseys, sneakers, scoreboards, peach-bucket baskets, pictures, trophies, game programs, you name it. Every inch of the building is a tribute to the game of basketball and the best state in the country for basketball. It makes me proud to have been part of that tradition.

Q. How cool was it to take your parents and children through the HOF?

A. All current inductees are given a glass case on the main floor of the Hall of Fame to display memorabilia from our basketball careers for one year, until the next class is inducted. It was fun collecting jerseys and plaques and pictures from my playing days because it brought back so many great memories.

Seeing other displays was neat, too, because I remember some of the other inductees who played in my era.

It meant a lot to me that my family members got to see my display case set up, because in their own ways each played a big role in helping me achieve the success I did. And now my kids know that I wasn't lying about being a pretty good basketball player in high school!

Q. You thanked a lot of people that night, but tell us about the kind of dedication it takes to get to that level.

A. It takes a lot of help and support from those closest to you, those in your inner circle. But it also takes a lot of drive and discipline and hunger that comes only from within.

I tell my kids that all the time. I can tell them to practice or to study all day long, but if they don't really desire deep down inside to be a great athlete or a great student, it won't happen.

I was highly motivated to be a Division I college basketball player. I knew that was the only way we could afford to send me to a big college. I spent so many countless hours in the early morning, in the heat of the afternoon, in the darkness of night out on my asphalt driveway shooting hoops. It takes almost an over-the-top commitment to set yourself apart from the rest.

Q. Who were your athletic heroes? Who was the first?

A. Many women my age who liked sports as kids grew up idolizing male athletes, simply because there weren't a lot of female athletes then. I remember my first basketball being a Dr. J (Julius Erving) basketball. And I liked Magic Johnson and Larry Bird because I saw them on TV.

The first time I saw women's basketball on TV was when Cheryl Miller was leading the University of Southern California to the NCAA national championship in the mid-1980s. I remember being wowed by how good she was. She was probably my first true female sports hero.

I've always had great respect for the late Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt, whom I got to know when I became a journalist. Talk about a sports hero. She put her heart into women's basketball at a time when a lot of people barely believed women should be playing team sports. What a pivotal ambassador and pioneer she was for women's basketball and women's sports.

Of course, Michael Jordan is a big sports hero for me. I came of age in the Michael Jordan era and was a freshman at Northwestern when the Chicago Bulls won their first world title. The night the Bulls clinched, some friends and I drove to the city and cruised up and down the busiest streets honking the horn and cheering loudly with the windows rolled down, just like thousands of other people.

Q. With regard to the other inductees, what is it that you all have in common beyond a love for the game?

A. I think we all have such great respect for the game that we would never want to give anything less than our best. And that meant hard work and even more hard work.

Anyone who achieves success at the Hall of Fame level didn't get there by luck. Every inductee put every ounce of themselves into becoming the best player they could be. And it wasn't a chore to do so. It was a labor of true love.

We all also had and still have an appreciation for the history and magic that is Indiana basketball.

Q. If you could play a pick up game with four other HOF, who gets your call?

A. Too hard to pick just four. Here's a list for a great game of Hall of Fame 5-on-5. I could sub in!

• Steve Alford, New Castle/Indiana/NBA

• Scott Skiles, Plymouth/Michigan State/NBA

• Oscar Robertson, Indianapolis Crispus Attucks/Cincinnati/NBA

• Larry Bird, Springs Valley/Indiana State/NBA

• Judi Warren, Warsaw/Franklin College/first Indiana Miss Basketball

• John Wooden, Martinsville/Purdue/UCLA coach

• Damon Bailey, Bedford North Lawrence/Indiana/NBA

• Chuck Taylor, Columbus/Chuck Taylor basketball shoes

• Bridget Pettis, East Chicago Central/Florida/WNBA/fellow 2017 inductee

• Bobby Plump, Milan/Butler/inspiration for star player in the movie "Hoosiers"

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