Angelo "Hank" Luisetti (June 16, 1916 - December 17, 2002) was an American college men's basketball player and one of the great innovators of the game. In an era that featured the traditional two-handed set shot, Luisetti developed the running one-handed shot. Equipped with such an offensive weapon, Luisetti became one of the most dominant players in American college basketball history.
A graduate of Galileo High School in his native city, San Francisco, he went on to play for Stanford. He became the first player to score 50 points in a game on January 1, 1938, against Duquesne. Luisetti was named the second-best player of the mid-century (behind George Mikan) by an Associated Press poll of sportswriters and broadcasters in 1950.
Luisetti’s influence was aided by a celebrated game between Long Island University and Luisetti’s Stanford Indians. Long Island, at the time of the game, had a 43 game winning streak. The game was played in the evening of Dec. 30, 1936, in Madison Square Garden and a crowd of 17,623 was on hand to see Long Island, the nation's No. 1 team, play Stanford.
Stanford was the defending Pacific Coast Conference champion from the 1935 season and six years later would win an NCAA championship. Still, they were underdogs. The crowd, while not expecting to see their local favorites lose, were intrigued by Luisetti, then a 6-foot-2, 185-pound sophomore. They knew that he shot the ball with one hand while he hung in the air, in stark contrast to the two-handed set shots or hook shots that were commonly attempted in those days.
Although Luisetti scored only 15 points on five field goals and five free throws, Stanford ended the L.I.U. winning streak with a 45-31 victory. The fact that this occurred in the media capital of the country, however, resulted in something more far-reaching. The publicity surrounding Luisetti's shooting style changed the game forever.
Some people credit Luisetti with inventing the jump shot, but his feet did not leave the ground. The jump shot is more properly credited to others in the early 1930s. Luisetti contracted spinal meningitis ending his basketball career. He never played in the NBA.
Among his other accomplishments, he was a Naval Officer during World War II.
He died in San Mateo, California, in 2002.
- New York Times, December 21, 2002.
- Basketball, a History of the Game, by Alexander Wolff, Sports Illustrated Press, 1997
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