High School 3 point shot

25th Anniversary of the 3-Point Shot

Kevin Pittsnogle popularized the 3-point shot for big men while playing for former coach John Beilein at West Virginia from 2003-2006.

All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks photo


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Twenty six years ago, getting ‘Pittsnogled!’ would have meant some sort of post-up move for a slam dunk instead of a big 3 late in the game from, of all players, a 7-foot center.

But of course a lot has changed since 1986, the last time college basketball has played without the 3-point line. Now we’ve got shooting centers like Kevin Pittsnogle showing off his tats and getting the fans all whooped up into a frenzy and schools like Butler, George Mason and VCU reaching the Final Four. College basketball has never been more interesting, more entertaining or more unpredictable and the reason is clear – the 3-point shot has helped make it that way.

“I think (the 3) is definitely a weapon, but there are also so many misconceptions about it, ” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. “My guy at Cincinnati (Darnell Burton), who made the sixth-most 3s and had more 3s (306) than anybody has ever had at this school, got a lot of them because I had (Danny) Fortson, (Dontonio) Wingfield and (Erik) Martin and everybody had to guard them.”

Huggins is one of the coaches who was around 25 years ago when the NCAA made the bold move to adopt the 3-point shot a year after it also incorporated the shot clock, originally established at 45 seconds but later reduced to 35 seconds seven years later in 1993. When you talk to coaches from that era they typically refer to the 3-point shot and the shot clock in the same breath.

Those two changes altered the game in a way it probably hasn’t seen since the late 1930s when they quit jumping for balls after each made basket. The first year of the 3-ball in ’87 saw NCAA teams attempt 9.2 per game. Ten years later that number increased to 17.1 attempts, and today, the college game is seeing an average of 18.2 3s per game.

West Virginia, too, has experienced a similar increase, going from 5.6 3-point attempts in 1987 to 14 3-point tries in 1997 to an average of 18.5 3-point attempts per game last year under Huggins. Huggins, coaching at Akron when the new rule was adopted, said most of the coaches he knew in the late 80s weren’t too thrilled with the idea of adding the 3-point shot to the game.

“I remember Coach (Bob) Knight wasn’t for it, ” Huggins said. “He said he wasn’t for it and he had the best 3-point shooter in the country (Steve Alford).”

Gale Catlett, who coached 30 years at Cincinnati and West Virginia, said he was in favor of the 3 as long as the shot clock came with it.

“I liked the idea based on what the distance was and based on the shot clock, ” said Catlett from his winter home in Hawaii. “I voted for it because I thought it would be like the home run in baseball. It would be something exciting for the fans to see.”

Actually, Catlett’s West Virginia teams played in a conference (Atlantic 10) that used the 3-point shot on an experimental basis during the 1982-83 and 1984-85 seasons. At the time, the A-10 was playing in the shadows of the Big East Conference and the league was looking for ways to generate some additional excitement and enthusiasm. And adding a 3-point shot was much easier to do than getting bigs like Patrick Ewing, Walter Berry and Derrick Coleman to come into the league.


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FAQ

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When was the 3 point shot intoduced in high school basketball?

Between the years 1986 to 1988.

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What is the length of a high school 3 point shot?

Once the 3 point arc begins, the college and high school 3 point arc is 19.75 feet or 237 inches.

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