Sean Kline and Chris Kramer were two of the most high-profile athletes ever to perform at Huntington North High School. Kline became the school’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder, earned a spot on the Indiana All-Star team and went to Indiana University. He made a solid case as the best basketball player in Huntington North history.
Kramer was unbelievable. Flat out, he is most likely the best all-around athlete ever to come out of Huntington County. He dominated in basketball, football and baseball. He would have dominated in any sport he chose to play.
At the Herald-Press, we chronicled the achievements of both closely. We got to know the families well, and we had close access for both. Here is a sampling of just a few pages covering their careers.
KLINE & KRAMER
As Sean Kline shot well past six feet in middle school, he began dominating on the hardwood, and there was much anticipation for his arrival at North Arena. He didn’t disappoint. Coming off the bench, Kline scored 13 points in his freshman debut. He joined the starting lineup in January. He grew into his 6-foot-8 frame and became a dominant force. There were rocky times, and we had to report on Kline's suspension for a never-disclosed violation of school policy. As a sophomore in 1998-99, he led Huntington North to its first regional title in 30 years, averaging 22 points and 10 rebounds a game. Nearly every top college coach in the country made their way to Viking games. Then-Notre Dame coach Matt Doherty even brought the Irish to North Arena for a practice. IU’s Bob Knight and Purdue’s Gene Keady each saw games at Huntington North. We covered his recruitment process, then went to the front page when Kline settled on Indiana. There was an added element to the recruiting process when Kline's mother was open to the press that she was not particularly happy with her son's choice to play for IU's Bob Knight. But he would never play for Knight. Kline ultimately became Knight’s final IU recruit, as the volatile coach was fired by the school before Kline arrived, and we talked to Kline for a story on Knight's dismissal. Kline stayed with his commitment to the Hoosiers. The Vikings won a sectional in Kline’s senior season, but they fell a week later in the regional, bringing his high school career to a close. We did a recap of his career as the school’s leading scorer and rebounder, and a story when he finished third in the Mr. Basketball voting and was named to the Indiana All-Star team. Kline redshirted his first season at Indiana, and when he finally got on the court, we tracked his game progress with a “Kline Line” graphic to go along with each IU contest. We covered a handful of IU games in person when time permitted, including a matchup against Maryland in Indianapolis. It was a bit of luck on our part, because Kline had what looked to be breakout game as a sophomore. But a knee injury slowed his progress at IU just as he was hitting his stride, and when he returned he never found a comfortable fit in the rotation of coach Mike Davis. He ended his career with 20 starts in 90 games, averaging three points and two rebounds per contest. The season after Kline graduated, the Hoosiers reached the NCAA championship game, where IU lost to Maryland. Kline married another basketball standout, Constance Kline, who was a top player at Columbia City. They have four children.
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Chris Kramer’s arrival at Huntington North had been anticipated for years. I talked with HNHS basketball coach Eric Foister regularly, and even before Kramer set foot on the court, Foister was already saying Kramer was poised to be the best player in school history. He didn’t stand head-and-shoulders above everyone like Sean Kline did, but the 6-foot-3 Kramer separated himself with pure athletic ability. He was a perfect athlete with a combination of speed, agility, power and intelligence, and an added level of competitiveness that was off the chart. He demonstrated that on the basketball court, the football field and the baseball diamond. He could have also done it on the track, on the tennis court, or whatever athletic field he had chosen. He was reluctant to play football, but did anyway. He was a running back, quarterback, safety, and never came off the field. He ran to the school career rushing record, looking like he could score on any play, from any place on the field, and thrilled crowds with remarkable feats, including an unbelievable effort in a game against Columbia City. His leap into the end zone was caught by our photographer Andrew Hancock. Against Richmond, he ran for 268 yards and six touchdowns. In baseball, Kramer was “merely” spectacular, setting a school record in batting average as a junior. But he garnered the most attention in basketball, where he played above the rim and at times would take over games. He looked up to Sean Kline and learned how to handle his celebrity, never getting caught up in life as a superstar. He didn’t put up the stats that Kline did, but he still finished with more than 1,000 points for his career and made the Indiana All-Star team. There is one stat that seems hard to believe for someone who hated to lose as much as Kramer did. In all three sports during all four years, Kramer’s teams never won a sectional. But that did not deter from the impact he left on the school and the community. We did a long-form story late in his high school career asking the question whether he was the greatest athlete ever to come out of Huntington County. We used a full front page of the sports section, and talked to people who remembered athletes all the way back to the 1940s. Like with Kline, colleges came calling, many for football. Kramer had NFL potential as a safety, but he wanted to stay with basketball, his first love, and chose Purdue, with a future in the NBA on his mind. At Purdue, Kramer’s tenacious play endeared him to the Mackey Arena faithful, and he became a two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. He helped lead the Boilermakers from the bottom of the Big Ten to a conference championship. He ended his career with 850 points and a school-record 274 steals. He went on to play with the Indiana Pacers summer league team and was in the Milwaukee Bucks training camp but did not make a final roster. Since 2011, Kramer has put together a solid pro career in Europe with four different teams. When I was selected to go into the Huntington North Hall of Fame in 2011, Chris called me from Germany to offer congratulations, which was really nice. He currently plays for the EuroLeague team in Moscow in Russia. He is married with a young daughter.