NewsCovering Kentucky


“King” Kelly Coleman Dies At 80

Posted at 4:18 PM, Jun 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-17 18:40:19-04

(LEX 18)– Kentucky’s First Mr. Basketball died Sunday night at the age of 80.

“King” Kelly Coleman was a standout for Wayland High School and is the all-time leading scorer in Kentucky High School Boys’ Basketball history.

Coleman scored more than 4,000 points in his high school career and he also owns the record for the most points scored in a single season.

“He set the state tournament scoring record in the first game. Scored 50 points. Two games later, he breaks his own record by scoring 68 points which is still a state tournament individual record,” said 1998 Mr. Basketball J.R. Vanhoose. He was referring to Coleman’s accomplishments in the 1956 state tournament.

Vanhoose told LEX 18 that Coleman inspired mountain kids like him to dream big.

“He really gave everybody from eastern Kentucky some hope that these things can be accomplished. That I did this, and I set the precedent and you can follow me,” said Vanhoose, a Paintsville native.

Vanhoose and Coleman developed a close friendship and in recent years, joined the team at the Mountain Sports Hall Of Fame. They were also part of an effort to preserve the old Wayland High School gym where King Kelly played.

“I know this is something that meant a lot to him, and I’m just glad we can carry that on and actually preserve this place and put it back to its former glory,” said Vanhoose.

Coleman was a two time All-American in college before being drafted by the New York Knicks in 1960. His NBA career was short-lived after being let go from the Knicks before the 1960-1961 season.

He died of cancer Sunday night.