By Rob Hunt
Most of the younger students at IUPUI have no idea who Michael Boles is or the important place he holds in IUPUI basketball history.
This soft-spoken, gentle giant graduated from Lapel High School in 1988 after starting all four years and averaging more than 20 points and 15 rebounds per game. He led the state of Indiana in rebounding at more than 17 per game. His stellar high school play resulted in scholarship offers from Eastern Carolina, Butler, Texas-San Antonio, Wisconsin and Indiana State. He ultimately chose Indiana State because, as a small town kid who wanted to be close to home as several of his high school classmates were headed to Terre Haute.
After playing sparingly for two years at Indiana State and enduring a coaching change, Boles decided on a change of scenery.
“There was a lot of turmoil,” Boles said. “There was a new coach and a different philosophy.”
Photo via IUPUI Athletics Department
His arrival at IUPUI in 1991 coincided with the school’s transition from being an NAIA school to Division 2, not an easy time on the court. Bob Levell, the head coach at IUPUI at that time and current radio analyst, was more than happy to have Boles on his team.
“He certainly helped a lot as our schedule became more difficult,” Levell said. “We struggled those two years. It would have been much more difficult without a post player like him. I shudder to think how it would have been without him, to be honest.”
Boles, goes on to talk about the experience. “We played a lot of good teams,” he said. “We were competitive.”
Boles especially remembers playing against Illinois of the Big Ten, which had future NBA players Marcus Liberty and Kendall Gill.
“They beat us by 30,” he said. “And it probably could have been worse if they had wanted to.”
Boles, at 6’7”, was not just a big man, but also brought versatility to the court for the Metros, IUPUI’s former name.
“He was a mobile big man,” Levell said. “He ran the floor well. I thought he was a really good passer. He could recognize double-teams and take the ball to the hole. We probably didn’t get him the ball enough, to be honest. He was an absolute force inside for us.”
More importantly, Levell remembers Boles as a solid student, teammate and citizen.
“He worked hard and went to class,” Levell said. “One of the things we liked was that he was serious about getting his degree and doing the right things in the classroom. When we looked at his grades, we knew he was doing the right thing.
“His teammates liked him,” Levell continued. “He is just a great and personable young man. He’s a great kid. A fun guy to be around with a great sense of humor, and he’s as nice a guy as I’ve ever coached.”
Boles fondly remembers his time at IUPUI.
“I loved it,” he said. “The basketball team stayed off campus. I enjoyed my time there. I liked the atmosphere, being near downtown Indianapolis. There is a lot of stuff to do.”
Boles averaged 3.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game as a junior. His numbers increased as a senior, averaging 12.8 points and 7.9 rebounds as a senior. It was also as a senior that he set a school record that still stands, pulling down 20 rebounds in a game in March of 1993.
Despite being a talented high school and college player, Boles didn’t consider playing professionally after graduating from IUPUI with a degree in physical education.
“I never gave it any thought,” he said. “I could have potentially gone overseas and played a little bit.”
Instead, after college, he tried to find a teaching job, but was unsuccessful.
“It was hard to find a teaching job at that time,” he said. “I put in a lot of applications and didn’t get a single interview. I worked at a factory for 10 years and have been with the post office ever since.”
Michael married his high school sweetheart, Michelle, in September of 1993 and they have two daughters, Breanna 15 and Brooklyn 8. They currently live in Frankton, Indiana. Michelle was also a three sport athlete in high school, having played basketball, volleyball and softball.
Breanna recently made headlines when she verbally agreed to play basketball at Indiana University while still in the eighth grade. She is now a freshman at Lapel High School. Boles remarked on the differences between college sports recruiting now when he was a high school star.
“A lot has changed in 25 years,” he said. “She (Breanna) got noticed early because I’ve had her playing AAU ball since fourth-grade. I didn’t start playing AAU ball until high school. If you go to an AAU game, there are 25-30 college coaches at every game. Her first scholarship offer came in 7th grade from Evansville. But she’s been an IU fan since she could walk, so when that offer came, that’s where she wanted to play.”
He has been successful on the court, in the classroom and in life. Regardless of what happens in the future, Michael Boles has a permanent place in IUPUI basketball history.