Thirty years have passed since a 3-point line was added in high school basketball.
That came shortly after the college game added both a 3-point line and a shot clock.
But for high schools in the vast majority of the country, the shot clock has yet to be introduced.
The National Federation of High Schools, of which the Indiana High School Athletic Association is a member, for several years has contemplated the addition of a shot clock.
Paul Neidig, who is in his first year overseeing boys basketball for the IHSAA, said he occasionally gets asked about whether shot clocks will ever appear in Indiana high school basketball.
“It’s something that we continue to monitor,” Neidig said.
Columbus North boys basketball coach Paul Ferguson sees both sides in the shot-clock debate.
Ferguson, who arrived at Columbus North three years ago, coached nine years at the collegiate level and got used to having a shot clock. The college shot clock was 45 seconds when it was introduced for the 1985-86 season. The time was cut to 35 seconds for the 1993-94 season, and then trimmed again to the current 30 seconds for the 2015-16 season.
“I like the way that speeds up the game,” Ferguson said. “Traditionally, I’m a coach who likes his teams to play fast. I like to get up and down, and I think that comes from being at the college level with the shot clock, so I can see some advantages there.”
But Ferguson also understands the history of basketball in Indiana and the tradition of Hoosier Hysteria. He can see how a lot of people want to keep that tradition.
Ferguson said not having a shot clock allows a little more strategy if a coach has a team that doesn’t have a lot of size or might have some other disadvantages. Playing without a shot clock gives high school coaches a little more creativity to design game plans that benefit their strengths and weaknesses, he said.
Columbus East boys coach Brent Chitty, who said most possessions in high school basketball last between 12 and 25 seconds, has never been a big proponent of the shot clock.
“It changes the game at a young level where kids are still probably developing,” Chitty said. “If you do it for varsity, you have to do it for JV. You have to do it for freshmen. Most possessions don’t last that long anyway, but you just have to teach kids to play that way. But I think it’s coming.”
East athletics director Pete Huse said introducing a shot clock for high school basketball would have limited impact.
“Until the very end of the game or end of the half, I don’t think much of the game would change,” Huse said.
His counterpart at Columbus North sees a high school shot clock coming, however.
“I see benefits of having one for certain programs,” North athletics director Jeff Hester said. “It definitely would neutralize certain games. I imagine that it will happen probably within the next 10 years.”
If shot clocks are approved, the two Columbus high schools will be ready. The equipment was installed years ago.
North girls coach and IBCA sports information director Pat McKee said nationally there is a push for a shot clock. He said he isn’t sure Indiana high school coaches really want it, but that at some point the national federation might push it through.
McKee said there are some years when he would be in favor of a shot clock, and other years where he wouldn’t be.
“Just tell me what the rules are, and I’ll play with them,” McKee said.
A look at the shot clock lengths at the various levels of basketball:
NBA and WNBA: 24 seconds
Men’s and women’s college: 30 seconds
High schools: Eight states — California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Washington — use shot clocks of varying lengths. Wisconsin will add one for the 2019-20 season. Other states don’t use shot clocks.
The Indiana Basketball Coaches Association in October sent out a questionnaire to Indiana schools about their preference for a shot clock. The questionnaire gave four choices on how schools could reply:
- 30-second shot clock
- 35-second shot clock
- 40-second shot clock
- No shot clock
The results: 48 percent of coaches were in favor of no shot clock. The other 52 percent were distributed fairly evenly between the 30-second, 35-second and 40-second options.