From basketball to business


1998 Mr. Basketball Tom Coverdale has returned to Noblesville with a new insurance job

His name remains on the top lines of record books and his performance on the basketball court is still talked about today.

Tom Coverdale won the Mr. Basketball title in 1998 as a senior for being the best player in the state – the first and only winner for Noblesville High School. After leading the Millers, Coverdale went on to take Indiana University to the National Championship game in 2002 before playing for Rockford, Ill., in the Continental Basketball Association and oversees in Trier, Germany. For the past six years, he worked as an assistant coach before returning to Noblesville last summer.

“I knew I wanted to work with a good group of people that were well-established,” he said.

Coverdale now works at Shepherd Insurance and Financial Services in Carmel, which is owned by Dave Shepherd, the 1970 Mr. Basketball from Carmel High School. Shepherd scored 2,226 points in his high school career and Coverdale scored 1,911 points. Only Shepherd’s older brother, Billy, the 1968 Mr. Basketball scored more points (2,465) in Hamilton County.

“We hit it off right away,” Coverdale said of Dave Shepherd. “Our experiences and how competitive we are brought us together. It’s one of the top agencies in the state. I could not have found a better place to work.”

What Coverdale enjoys most about his new job is being out in the community.

“I’ve always wanted to get a job and interact with a lot of people,” he said.

Coverdale said his skills in basketball have translated over to the business world.

“As a point guard and leader, you are committed to working with different types of people and personalities,” he said. “When I was recruiting as an assistant coach, you know every person is different and has different needs. You have to have their best interests at heart. It’s exactly what the business world is all about. I knew it the first month I was with Shepherd. It’s just as competitive as athletics.”

Coverdale said his main reason to return to Noblesville was to be closer to his family.

“I have nieces and nephews I haven’t been around in such a long time,” he said.

Before Coverdale was wearing No. 3 in crimson and cream, he was making Miller fans crazy wearing No. 4 in black and gold.

“What I’m most proud of in high school is making it to semi-state,” he said

Teammates still talk of that wondrous season in 1997 – the first time NHS had made it that far in the playoffs since 1963.

“Seeing how the community rallied behind us, how great of a scene that was, It’s something we will always remember,” Coverdale said.

In 1998, the Indiana High School Athletic Association shifted the state basketball tournament to classes based on enrollment size – one that nostalgists, fans and former players like Coverdale are not partial to. During Coverdale’s final season, he and fellow Mr. Basketball’s Jason Gardner of North Central (1999) and Chris Thomas of Pike (2001) all played in the same sectional.

“I’ve always liked one class. Seeing a smaller school beat a bigger school, those students looked at that like their state championship,” he said. “Look at this year with Hamilton Southeastern and North Central; the top teams play each other right away.”

Following graduation and his time at New Hampton Prep, Coverdale starred for IU, where he was recruited by legendary coach Bob Knight – a dream for most Indiana players.

“My experience with Coach Knight was great,” said Coverdale. “He’s a great basketball mind. I learned a ton in that one year.”

The following year, Mike Davis guided IU to a share of the Big Ten crown, its first since 1993. During the NCAA tournament, the Hoosiers (a No. 5 seed) cruised through the first two rounds before facing No. 1 ranked Duke in the regional semi-finals. A huge underdog, IU rallied from a 14-point deficit with 12 minutes remaining to secure a 1-point win.

“By the end of the year, we were playing really, really well. We knew we could play with anybody,” said Coverdale. “We could be down 17 points and there wasn’t a doubt with us we could win. The last half of the regular season prepared us for that tournament. It was unbelievable.”

Coverdale’s left ankle was injured in the regional final game against Kent State, but he still managed to play 29 minutes as IU “shocked the world” again by defeating powerhouse Oklahoma by 9 points in the Final Four. The Hoosiers’ magical run of upsets ended against Maryland in the National Championship game.

“Growing up in Hamilton County where basketball is king, I remember watching all the Final Fours with my family,” said Coverdale. “I remember saying, ‘They’re going to say Noblesville one day’ (during starting lineup introductions). That is something I will never forget.”

Following his playing days, Coverdale began a career as a coach. He worked as an assistant coach at University of Louisiana-Monroe for four years and Tyler (Texas) Junior College for two years. While working as an assistant coach in UL-Monroe, a couple NHS students took a 16-hour bus ride to the campus to interview Coverdale for the daily announcements. The students stuck around for the team’s practice and then boarded another bus to come home.

“It shows how great the community is; how much it loves basketball,” said Coverdale with a smile. “In the south, they (people) were like, ‘Are you serious?’ Unless you grow up in a community like Hamilton County, you couldn’t understand it. Down south, football is king.”

Nowadays, Coverdale joked you are more likely to find him on a golf course than the basketball court, but he never gets tired of hearing Mr. Basketball in front of his name.

“It’s a good feeling,” he said. “It’s something I take pride in because I have so much pride in the state and its love of basketball.”


Know More

Tom Coverdale is licensed in personal and commercial insurance at Shepherd Insurance, 1200 W. Carmel Dr., Carmel. He can be contacted at 846-5554. Established more than three decades ago, Shepherd Insurance specializes in both commercial and personal insurance, employee benefits and financial products. It also focuses on numerous niche markets, including truck and automobile dealerships, property management, law firms and restaurants.

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