Herman Schaefer

Photo: IU Archives

Herman Schaefer Biography

Herman “Herm” Schaefer was a former Indiana University basketball player from Fort Wayne, Indiana that played for the Hoosiers between 1938 and 1941. Schaefer was on Indiana first ever NCAA championship team (1940) and he was the first Hoosier to go on and win an NBA title (1950). During his time at Indiana University, Schaefer played for Branch McCracken, who was also beginning his Indiana University coaching career. Schaefer would later spend nine seasons as a professional player in the NBL and NBA, and as a head coach in the NBA.

  • Name: Herman Henry Schaefer
  • Position: Guard / Forward
  • Nationality: USA
  • Birthday: December 20, 1918
  • Deceased: March 21, 1980 (Age 61)
  • Hometown: Fort Wayne, Indiana
  • High School: Central High School (Fort Wayne, Indiana)
  • Height: 6’0″ (183 cm)
  • Weight: 179 lb (79 kg)
  • Seasons: (1938-1939, 1939-1940, 1940-1941)
  • Jersey: #32, #7, #24, #10
  • Professional Playing Career:
    • Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons (1941-1943, 1945-1946)
    • Indianapolis Kautskys (1946-1947)
    • Minneapolis Lakers (1947-1950)
  • Professional Coaching Career:
    • Indianapolis Olympians (1951-1953)

Awards and Accolades

  • 1950 NBA champion
  • 1949 BAA champion
  • 1948 NBL champion
  • 1942 All-NBL Second Team
  • 1940 NCAA champion

Herman Schaefer Seasons with the Hoosiers

1938-1939 Indiana Basketball Season
Branch McCracken (1st Season)
17-3 (9-3 Big Ten)
🥈 2nd Place Big Ten

1939-1940 Indiana Basketball Season
Branch McCracken (2nd Season)
20-3 (9-3 Big Ten)
🥈 2nd Place Big Ten
🏆 NCAA Champions
1940-1941 Indiana Basketball Season
Branch McCracken (3rd Season)
17-3 (10-2 Big Ten)
🥈 2nd Place Big Ten

Herman Schaefer Indiana University Career Statistics

(Source: Indiana University Athletics)

1938-1939 11 19 9 16 0.563 47 4.3
1939-1940 23 77 30 53 0.566 184 8.0
1940-1941 20 42 27 40 0.675 111 5.6
Career 54 138 66 109 0.606 342 6.3

Herman Schaefer High School Career

Schaefer’s parents William and Pauline Schaefer introduced a young Herman Schaefer to basketball when he was just in the fourth grade. There he began playing with one of his best friends, Curly Armstrong, where they would play together for sixteen consecutive years on the same team.

At Central Catholic High School, Schaefer was one of the star players that played a number of different positions on the court. He was known for his ability to score and earned recognition from around his state on his ability to shoot from various angles of the basketball court.

At 6-foot-0, Schaefer was not the tallest player on the court, but still managed to play as a guard and forward in different circumstances for his high school coach. Schaer took Central Catholic High School to two Final 4 appearances.

Herman Schaefer Indiana University Career

Herman Schaefer enrolled at Indiana University in 1937 along with his best friend Armstrong, but he was unable to play as a freshman given the rules of college basketball at the time. He played for the legendary head coach Branch McCracken just as McCracken took over the Indiana University basketball program.

Photo: IU Archives (Herm Schaefer is pictured with the number 32 jersey)

At the beginning of the 1938-1940 season; however, Schaefer continued to deal with eligibility issues with the NCAA. Despite being a freshman, Schaefer had to sit out a second semester and could join the Hoosiers only after the first half of the basketball season.

In the 1939-1940 season, the Hoosiers would win their first ever NCAA championship. The two leading scorers from the team was the pair of Armstrong and Schaefer. The two Fort Wayne natives played in all 23 games. Armstrong averaged 8.9 points per game and Schaefer averaged 8.0.

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Schaefer finished his Indiana University basketball career as the captain of the 1940-1941 team. For his career, he averaged 6.3 points at Indiana University and tallied a total of 342 points.

Herman Schaefer Professional Basketball Career

Upon graduating from Indiana University, Herm Schaefer entered in the professional basketball ranks by first starting his career with the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons, which happened to be the first year that Fort Wayne had joined the NBL. Schaefer played in Fort Wayne between 1941 and 1943 before pausing his basketball career due his enlisting for World War II.

In his two seasons with the Minneapolis Lakers, Schaefer was an important part of the Lakers’ roster as he averaged over 10 points per game his rookie season and had over 3 assists per game.

In the 1950 season, Schaefer again remained as a key facilitator on the team, but left the scoring to his teammates who were more efficient. Schaefer played as the backup small forward behind All-NBA First teamer Jim Pollard.

In the regular season, the Lakers finished with a final record of 51-17 which tied the Rochester Royals as the leader of the NBA Central Division Standings. The Lakers won the 1950 NBA Championship, making Schaefer the very first Hoosier to win an NBA championship.

Schaefer was also the first Hoosier to win both an NCAA championship and well as an NBA championship in their careers.

After his final season with the Minneapolis Lakers, Schaefer decided to retire as a player and return back to Indiana where he served as a head coach for the Indianapolis Olympians in 1951.

However, his coaching career would begin with a devastating turn. Just weeks before the season began, the Indianapolis Olympians’ two best players, Alex Groza and Ralph Beard, were implicated in a point-shaving scandal at the college level, and as a result, the two were permanently banned from playing professional basketball.

The Olympians managed to play another season, but ultimately the brand damage to the team and the impacts to the rest of organization due to the scandal was too much. The team folded in 1953 and dissolved.

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