Maris Valainis (Latvian: Māris Valainis) (born on February 18, 1963) is an American construction consultant and a former actor, best known for his role in the 1986 film Hoosiers, in which he played the character of Jimmy Chitwood, a basketball player who makes a last-second shot to win the Indiana state high school championship. The character is based upon Bobby Plump, who actually accomplished that feat in 1954.
Valainis, a native of Indiana, had arrived at an open casting call for Hoosiers but grew impatient waiting in line with hundreds of other hopefuls and decided to leave the line. However, when he did so, he was noticed by a casting director, who then pulled him aside and asked him to demonstrate his basketball skills. Although Valainis had been cut each of the three times he had tried out for his own high school basketball team, he impressed the casting director enough that he was invited back the next day to read lines, and he eventually landed the part. Of the eight actors cast as members of the team, Valainis was reportedly the only one who did not actually play high school basketball.
The scene in Hoosiers with Jimmy Chitwood and Coach Norman Dale talking while Jimmy is shooting baskets at an outdoor basket was filmed in one take. Valainis said that he "wasn't even listening to (Gene Hackman). I was just concentrating on making (the shots) and I made one and they kept going in." In the scene where Chitwood made the final shot of the state championship game, Valainis was told that whether he made the shot or not, people were going to rush the floor because of the need for a wide shot of the court. Luckily, he made it on the first take (and later sank the same shot in a second take).
After shooting Hoosiers, Valainis moved to California to pursue a career in acting. However, he later reflected that after getting the role in Hoosiers so easily, he believes that he took acting for granted. He received a few small roles in feature films, one of them being Scott Thorson in the TV biopic Liberace (1988), before turning his attention to golf. Valainis had been an all-state golfer at Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis, Indiana, as well as a member of the golf team at Purdue University. After giving up on acting, he began a career in golf course management, including working as a caddy for professional golfers.
As of 2010, Valainis was working as a construction consultant. He was married, with two daughters, and living in Costa Mesa, California. He noted that when in public, he was still frequently recognized for his role in Hoosiers.