Basketball’s History in Columbus
While basketball doesn’t currently have a professional home in Columbus, the history of the game in Central Ohio is strong. From back-to-back national champions to the Basketball Hall of Fame, the sport’s history traces through Columbus.
In 2018, Columbus literally rolled out the red carpet for the Final Four, featuring two overtimes and a buzzer beater in the final.
Columbus has hosted the boys and girls high school state championships more than any other city.
In 2020, TBT brought 24 teams to Columbus for the first COVID ‘bubble’ sports event during COVID.
Nationwide Arena has hosted the First & Second Rounds of March Madness four times since 2005. The fifth is this season on March 17-19…
Columbus hosted the NCAA Women's Final Four in 2018 and will again in 2027.
Nationwide Arena has hosted NCAA Men’s March Madness First & Second Rounds six times since 2004.
The city of Columbus is home to 20 NBA players over the league’s history. Of those 20, seven stayed in Columbus to play collegiately at Ohio State University. Three Columbus-born players have played in the WNBA.
Capital University, in Bexley, Ohio on Columbus’ east side, is home of back-to-back national championships for NCAA Division III women’s basketball. The first time the feat was accomplished.
Ohio State’s campus has two basketball arenas. The current Schottenstein Center and historic St. John’s Arena. St. John’s opened in 1956 for men, and eventually women’s, basketball until it closed in 1998. The arena is still used for football Saturdays with the Buckeyes’ Skull Sessions, used to address the fans and hype up the team.
The team started play in 1965, coached by women’s sports pioneer Phyliss Bailey. Two of the top 10 winningest coaches in NCAA WBB history coached the Buckeyes – Tara VanDerveer and Jim Foster.
The Buckeyes have made 11 Final Fours and won the NCAA Championship in 1960. Notable players include Jim Jackson, Jerry Lucas, John Havlicek, Greg Oden, D’Angelo Russell, Scoonie Penn, Michael Redd Evan Turner and Mike Conley, Jr.
Although the league only lasted two and a half years, the women’s pro team won the only two league titles, led by Central Ohioan Katie Smith. Many stars from the Quest moved to the WNBA after the league folded in Dec. 1998.
If you want a taste of professional basketball, the Columbus Condors are your team. The Condors play just outside of the city, in Westerville. Since 2016, the Condors compete against other teams from across the country in The Basketball League.
Several Columbus high schools assemble girls teams, just six years after basketball was invented
Ohio State’s men’s team begins playing
Ohio State’s men’s team wins the NCAA Championship
Ohio State’s women’s team wins its first of 16 (as of 2022) regular season Big Ten championships
Katie Smith and the Buckeyes make the NCAA Championship, falling to Texas Tech
Capital University’s women’s team wins back to back DIII National Championships
The Columbus Quest win its second straight ABL Championship
Ohio State’s men’s team makes the NCAA Championship, falling to Florida. Two players from that team – Greg Oden and Mike Conley – are selected with the top four picks in the NBA draft