Boone’s Mains made a name for himself at the Arby’s Classic


By Trey Williams

Travis Mains was a standout at Daniel Boone before playing collegiately at King.

Daniel Boone’s Travis Mains, you might say, had an inflated opinion of his chances to defeat Ray Allen in December of 1992 at the Arby’s Classic 3-point shootout.

Boone coach Bobby Snyder would have players practice shooting with an oversized ball in those days, and it proved fruitful for Mains. The fifth and final ball in each of the five racks during the shootout was an oversized ball worth two points instead of one, and Mains cashed in to triumph against the future Hall of Famer and NBA champion.

“I made all five big balls,” Mains said Sunday night. “Coach Snyder would use ‘em in practice at Boone. So that was probably an advantage for me. I’ve never seen ‘em since.”

Ray Allen wasn’t a “He Got Game” star yet, but his reputation preceded him.

“Ray Allen was in the competition,” Mains said with a trace of the pre-shootout excitement rekindled in his voice. “It was just one round. I got hot. There wasprobably 20 entrants and I went third. I’ve never wanted kids to miss shots so bad in my life – and I ended up winning by one. I caught lightning in a bottle.”

Mains is a basketball junkie’s junkie. His wife Missey played college basketball and has coached basketball.

Travis coached the led Daniel Boone girls to a state tournament berth when they had Macie Culbertson (Belmont), and he will coach his daughter Sidney to a Division I scholarship at Knox Catholic. The 5-foot-11 junior already has numerous Division I offers, including East Tennessee State, Appalachian State, Chattanooga, Furman, Wofford, Buffalo and Murray State.

Mains had hardly any college interest until his individual showing at the Arby’s Classic as a junior. Among the coaches in attendance was King’s Scott Polsgrove.

“It helped with my recruiting at King and with some other NAIA Division II schools,” Mains said. “It got me on the radar because it was a big event. There was a lot of people there. That’s where he (Polsgrove) kind of first saw me.

“We played a team from Starkville, Mississippi. I had a good game shooting threes and defending and playing hard. And that’s kind of where he started recruiting me.”

Polsgrove, a basketball purist from Indiana, frequently lauded Mains’ passion and work ethic during his college career. Mains was the Tornado’s second-leading scorer at 16.4 points per game when King won the TVAC regular season title to advance to the national tournament his senior season. Larry Sharrett averaged 17.0 points per game.

“We were really bad our first two years and the last two years we did pretty good with less,” Mains said. “We weren’t very athletic, but we all loved basketball. Me and Larry could score and Mark (Pendleton) would rebound and defend and we had other pieces around us that were pretty good players.”

Virginia Intermont was King’s rival. It was coached by former Sonny Smith assistant Phil Worrell, who’d also been the head coach at Milligan for more than a decade. Worrell’s Cobras were always talented with players such as Julius Gallishaw and Phil Morant, the uncle of the Memphis Grizzlies’ superstar.

V.I. played in the cramped confines of the Cobra Den, and it was there that Mains had arguably his favorite performance in college.

“I scored like 36 points,” Mains said. “It was at V.I. and there’s people’s legs on the court. They had crazy atmospheres. It was so intense and so loud. They had big ole cheerleaders with tattoos all over ‘em jumping around on the floor.”

Fifty people in the Cobra Den seemed like 5,000. Mains’ family was in attendance when he painted his masterpiece there.

“I had my family on the baseline,” Mains said. “They were pretty rugged-looking. My teammates were like, ‘Who the hell is that?’ And I was like, ‘It’s my uncles.’ They were big ole burly guys.

“They got to see that. It was a memory I will always have. That was fun. It was probably my best game.”

Johnson County alum Ryan Arnold guarded Mains much of the game.

“Ryan was trying to (guard me),” Mains said with a chuckle, “he and some guy from South Carolina. I hit like seven or eight threes. And I started hitting my hook shots.

“Those rims were pretty friendly, though. They’d been dunked on so much and not been replaced. If you got it close it would go in.”

TSSAA Hall of Famer Bobby Snyder’s praise for Mains was always similar to Polsgrove’s when Mains was at Boone. Snyder said Mains was an overachiever who became a good high school player.

It wouldn’t have been out of place to refer to him as a player-coach. Teammate David Garland, who made the All-Arby’s Classic team in 1993, said Mains was freakishly ahead of his years with basketball knowledge.

“It was crazy,” Garland said. “I mean, even when Travis was a sophomore and junior in high school, Coach Snyder would not know a kid, and I don’t care what team it was, Coach Snyder, if he didn’t know a kid, he would ask Travis and Travis would be able to tell him what that kid does. It didn’t matter if they were from Knoxville or if they were from Florida, he knew that player or players.

“He had such a knack for the game. And that’s all he really studied was basketball. He was dedicated. He worked hard in practice. And then when he wanted to be a coach. I told him, you know, ‘Hey, you don’t need to go school for banking. Get in coaching, man.’ That’s where his passion is at and he’s a heck of a coach.

“And he developed that young. I mean, when he was a sophomore in high school, he was already picking up on stuff that I had no clue about.”

Mains said he was fortunate to have supportive parents – Beth and James – who transported him any and everywhere for sporting events. He was a hard-throwing pitcher too, and even played one year at King.

“I was probably a better baseball player until that senior year when I got some interest at the Arby’s Classic,” Mains said. “ETSU had talked to me about playing baseball, but I loved basketball a whole lot more than I loved baseball. I threw low 90s. Yeah, I could throw pretty hard. I played one year at King too, but we’d have to lift weights and stuff, and I’d go out there and pitch and plunk people and look like Wild Thing out there.”

King played highly ranked Embry Riddle in the national tournament when Mains was a senior.

“They were ranked number four or five in the country,” Mains said. “And we were ahead with only four minutes to go, and I fouled out and we ended up losing in overtime. So it was sad.

“But it was fun. We were overachieving and had a chance to win.”

The most vivid memories likely were made in Viking Hall at the Arby’s Classic.

“We played in front of some huge crowds,” Mains said. “The first game we played my senior year was against Vonteego Cummings, who played at Pitt and (in the NBA). We beat him on a last-second shot. I made a last-second shot with 4,500 people there right before Science Hill played somebody big. That was probably one of my funnest memories. We finished fifth my senior year and then turned around and got beat at Volunteer.”

The Traiblazers advanced to the semifinals when Mains was a sophomore in December or ’92. They lost 63-59 to Roanoke-Patrick Henry despite 22 points from Jamie Jones and 21 from Keilan Livingston.

“When Keilan and Jamie got going, they could score it,” Mains said. “When they got hot we could beat about anybody. And we had David Garland and Eddie Rutledge.

“We beat Dobyns-Bennett that year right after the Arby’s when they were (No. 2) in the state. They had Fred Smith, Jamichael Mills and Shane Carnes and (Ricardo Hale).”

It was especially gratifying to win for Bobby Snyder.

“It was just the way he treated you (that made him special),” Mains said. “He cared about you and pushed you. He was fair to all the kids. He’s just a good person. He was highly, highly organized and just went above and beyond what someone had to do to coach high school sports. …

“I just fell in love with basketball and had a coach that just really knew the game and taught it so well. Then everything has kind of fallen in place for me to keep teaching and being around kids. So it’s been a blessing.”


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