Jesse Hall left the Crawfordsville basketball program better than he found it.
But that’s not the most important part.
Jesse Hall will graduate from Crawfordsville High School this spring a better person than when he first donned the blue and gold as a scrawny freshman.
“It’s for sure changed me as a man,” Hall said. “I definitely came in here as a boy and left as a prepared man to take on anything and thanks to all my coaches and coach Pierce of course for helping prepare me and not just for basketball and working hard in that way, but building a good foundation for me as a man and preparing me for life.”
And the Athenians grew up with Hall.
After three losing seasons in four years — Hall helped Crawfordsville to three-straight winning seasons — posting 43 wins against 25 losses. Hall scored 1,110 of his 1,137 career points over his final three seasons at Crawfordsville, including 359 points in 19 games as a senior for an average of 18.9 points per game.
For a third-straight season Hall is the Journal Review Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
“I think he came more prepared this year and gave us more effort on a daily basis,” Crawfordsville coach David Pierce said. “This year I think he realized there was ‘a big target on me to stop me, and either I’m going to assert myself and score or if I get the double-team, I’m going to find the open guy.’”
Hall added 6.9 rebounds per game and 3.3 assists. The senior eclipsed the 1,000-point mark with a 33-point effort against North Montgomery — a game that allowed Hall’s final season to turn a corner. Down the stretch, Hall averaged 24 points per game over his last eight, including 20 points or more in six of the eight contests.
“I changed the mentality and how I was looking forward to the game and the game plan,” he said. “The aggressiveness and not passing as much, but still passing. Instead of letting the game come to me most times, I tried to attack it and I thought that helped us in a positive way.”
Crawfordsville posted a 12-7 record and a second-place finish in the Sagamore Conference
“We were really pleased with his aggressiveness this year and we felt like this was his best year as far as asserting himself,” Pierce said. “I felt like after the North game it became a staple and the rest of the year that’s just how he was going to play.”
The successful season followed a disappointing 13-11 campaign in 2019-20 and a lost summer due to COVID-19. All teams across the state of Indiana were in the same boat in the off-season, but Hall felt like his teammates responded in a positive way.
“There was motivation just because it was my senior year and for the rest of the team because it was something new,” he said. “Nobody had experienced COVID, so it was a challenge for everybody and I feel like we all accepted that challenge together and embraced what we had.”
The recent surge in success for the Athenians dates back to middle school to when this senior class that includes Hall and Ty Lynas, who averaged over 18 points per game for the Athenians as well, wanted to take their game to the next level.
“This class, I remember we took them as seventh-graders to D1 and then since then we just took them and it wasn’t enough, they wanted more,” Pierce said. “They wanted more off-season stuff. And they did. They put in the time and effort and again it effects the other classes because it gets competitive. You’re very fortunate as a coach to have a class like that come through, because it just breeds more winning.”
And for Hall, a six-foot-eight senior who shot 60% from the field as a senior, his path to stardom dates back much further than middle school.
“I remember them playing Indy Hoops in third-grade and Jesse cried every game,” Pierce said. “And then look at him now. He hated to lose and hated to be embarassed. And he wasn’t very good his first year and that’s where the stories come from of him going out and playing in his driveway in the snow and the rain, because he didn’t want to be embarassed and then all the sudden the very next year he had success and he just got a taste of it and just increased and the next thing you know he has the career that he has.”
Hall’s eventual success forever changed the Athenian program. It helped bring Crawfordsville hoops back to relevancy — winning their first Sagamore Conference title since 1987 in 2019 and a runner-up finish in 2021. Pierce says Hall’s impact both on and off the court will change the way Crawfordsville prepares and the way they play going forward.
His leadership, his maturity, and presence is something that will be missed but felt for generations to come.
But the most rewarding part for both Hall and Pierce?
Hall made the program better in his four years, and the Crawfordsville basketball program prepared Hall for years well beyond basketball.
And that’s a coach’s dream.
“That’s what you hope for. You hope to build relationships that we have that once they leave you’re more of a friend or an uncle relationship or someone they can confide in,” Pierce said. “A lot coaches when they’re young it’s all about winning and then once you get a taste of winning and it’s not enough, and then you realize that’s why I’m here. I’m here to help them become men and hopefully responsible and successful. He’s got a lot more victories coming his way and obviously I hope he has a lot of success in college playing basketball, but his successes will come far more being a dad, being a community member and his aspirations of what he wants to do, he can totally achieve it.”