“Belus Van Smawley came from the Appalachian foothills in western North Carolina. When Belus was 13, his father bought a small farm a half mile from an abandoned railroad depot along the old Southern Line.
“In that depot, the young boys of Ellenboro improvised a peach-basket gym to play in during inclement weather, and in the fall of 1934 Belus used his incredible jumping ability — developed by leaping up to touch high tree limbs while on his farm chores — to improvise a shot that no one had ever seen before. Off a dribble, he would stop suddenly, then with his back half to the basket leap high into the air, twisting to face the basket as he rose….”
– From “The Origins of the Jump Shot: Eight Men Who Shook the World of Basketball” by John Christgau (1999)
After starring at Appalachian State and in the early years of the NBA, Belus Van Smawley became a educator, retiring as principal at Mooresville Junior High. He died in 2003 at age 85.
I hadn’t known about Smawley’s role in the development of the jump shot until this story — it’s not mentioned in his citation at the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.