Taylorville High School 
Sports Hall of Fame
P O R T R A I T

KENNY MELVIN

  
 
Kenny played basketball for the Taylorville Tornadoes in the early 1940’s and as with his brother, his story is one of the more interesting in the annuals of Taylorville High School basketball.

    Even though he was the younger brother, Kenny was recognized for his individual talented and in 1940 Coach Stanley chose to build a solid freshman team around the two sharp shooting brothers. With his excellent ball handling and sharp shooting skills, Kenny help the Freshman to an undefeated season .

    During his sophomore season, 1941 -1942, Kenny became at role player off the bench on the varsity team and helped the Tornadoes to a 28 – 5 season, and a South Central Conference Championship.

    In the fall of 1942 Kenny became a starting guard on the varsity along with his brother Barney and joined juniors Ron Bontemps, Johnny Orr and senior LeRoy Walker on a team that went 28 - 3. As his brother became a greater threat as a scorer, Kenny was called on to be the ball handler and passer. Winning the conference again, the team fell to Decatur in the Sectional finals. Among the highlights of the season was a 47- 44 victory over eventual state champions Paris on their home floor.

    In the Sectional semi final game that year against Springfield High School, the Breeze-Courier reported that “A sharp shooting exhibition by Ken Melvin played an important part in Taylorville’s victory over Springfield last night. Melvin, who usually turned the point making chores over to his teammates had all kinds of fun with Springfield’s compact zone defense. Shooting set shots. Ken swished his first five shots and wound up the night’s work with 17 points”.

    But the fortunes for Kenny Melvin and his Tornadoes’ basketball plying days took a different turn as he began his senior. As the school year began, Kenny turned 18 years old and he received his draft notice and was called to serve with the United States Coast Guard. Kenny served two and a half years and was honorable discharged in April 1946. As a result of his being drafted, he, like his brother, also forfeited his senior year and an opportunity to play on the eventual state championship team.

    On his return, Kenny attended and played basketball at Arkansas State College. Joining another Taylorville great Benny Wilhelm, Kenny and his Arkansas State teammates claimed the 1947 Nation Intercollegiate Championship played in Kansas City, Missouri.

    Kenny worked for the US Post Office from 1953 until his retirement in 1981. He received his bachelor’s degree from Sangamon State University in 1979 and became a substitute teacher for eight years. He and his wife Wanda, have three daughters and continue to live in Taylorville.