Ray Pavy, a member of the 1960-1961 Indiana Hoosiers basketball team, died on Monday at age 80.
Pavy is a graduate of New Castle High School where he was a 1959 Indiana All-Star and the runner up for Indiana Mr. Basketball. Pavy’s 1,190 points set the New Castle career scoring record and his 23.3 points per game set a single-season record.
He’s famously known for scoring 51 points in the final regular season game of his senior year against the Kokomo Wildkats, nicknamed the “Church Street Shootout.” In a 1959 edition of the Indianapolis Star, sportswriter Bob Collins wrote that a New Castle grade school voted on the person they admired most. President Dwight D. Eisenhower finished second. Ray Pavy was the winner.
After his legendary high school career, Pavy received a scholarship to play for Indiana head coach Branch McCracken, who won national championships at Indiana in 1940 and 1953. Pavy played center for the Hoosiers during the 1960-1961 season, alongside Walt Bellamy, who averaged 20.6 points per game in three seasons at Indiana before becoming the No. 1 pick in the 1961 NBA Draft.
“Ray was beloved friend to so many around the IU Athletic Department, and I will personally miss him enormously,” said IU Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Scott Dolson. “I always looked forward to seeing him every summer at our men’s basketball reunions and catching up, as well as at so many of our basketball games in years past. While his IU playing career was cut short prematurely due to a tragic auto accident, he’s very much been an integral part of our IU Basketball family for the last 60 years. No one has represented the program any better during those 60 years than Ray. I want to extend my deepest condolences to Karen and the entire Pavy family.”
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Pavy’s playing career came to a devastating end in 1961 when he was paralyzed in an auto accident. Despite the injury that put Pavy in a wheelchair, he finished his undergraduate and graduate degrees at IU Bloomington. President Herman B. Wells even relocated classes to accommodate Pavy, who is believed to be IU’s first wheelchair-using student. He also earned a doctorate degree in education at Ball State University.
Pavy’s dream was to become a high school basketball coach, and that came true when he became the head coach at Sulphur Springs High School in 1966. He was later named the first head coach at Shenandoah High School, leading the 1969-1970 team to a 24-2 record that concluded with a sectional championship and an appearance in the regional finals. Pavy coached Shenandoah to a 90-43 record across six seasons, including two sectional titles.
After his coaching career, Pavy the assistant superintendent at New Castle for 31 years. During this time, he also helped found he Indiana Basketball Coaches Association and was the treasurer of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame for over two decades.
A street in downtown New Castle near the former Church Street Gym was renamed “Ray Pavy Way” in 2020 by the city of New Castle. And during IU’s 2017 homecoming week, Pavy was honored as a recipient of IU’s distinguished alumni service award.
“Everybody has a talent someplace, I guess,” Pavy said in a 2018 interview with the Indianapolis Star’s Kyle Neddenriep. “I can go to a basketball game and see what is happening. I can see how to stop it. I may not be able to stop Bill Russell but for some reason I could see it since I was about 4 years old. Basketball is a fun game because it’s a matchup of minds. There are so many different ways to play, but it is really matching minds provided you can get players to do what you want them to do. It’s fun.”
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