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.

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Major Events Hosted

Future Events

2018 NCAA Women’s Final Four

In 2018, Columbus literally rolled out the red carpet for the Final Four, featuring two overtimes and a buzzer beater in the final.

NCAA Men’s March Madness

Nationwide Arena has hosted the First & Second Rounds of March Madness four times since 2005. The fifth is this season on March 17-19…

Fast Facts

  • 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. 


Local Teams

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.

Dixie Jeffers

She won 741 games and two DIII titles (1994 & 1995) during a 30+ year run as women's basketball head coach at Capital University

John Havlicek

"Hondo" helped OSU win a national title then won eight NBA championships and made 13 All-Star teams with the Boston Celtics.

Katie Smith

The Buckeyes star went onto win two ABL championships with the Quest, then became a top 25 WNBA player of all time.

Jim Jackson

Named Ohio Mr. Basketball twice before winning Big Ten Player of the Year for the Buckeyes. Played in the NBA for 14 years.


Several Columbus high schools assemble girls teams, just six years after basketball was invented


Ohio State’s men’s team begins playing

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