Class of 2012
Like many high school athletes, James Hobbs was struggling with his confidence. The former East Limestone football and basketball standout wasn’t sure if he would ever play sports beyond the high school level. That all would change one night during his junior year as the Indians were playing in the semi-finals of the old Wheeler Basin Conference Basketball Tournament.
“Tanner was hosting the tournament that year,” said the 2012 Limestone County Sports Hall of Fame inductee. “The tournament was played right before Christmas. We had a lot of good seniors on the team and I hadn’t really contributed much. We were playing in the semi-finals and I had a good game which gave me the confidence that maybe I could play somewhere at the next level. That game and tournament jumpstarted my career.”
Hobbs was an All-County performer for the Indians football and basketball teams. He played linebacker for the football team and forward on the basketball team. Hobbs says he has great memories of his high school days. “I was nothing special but the East Limestone teachers treated me special. My high school coaches Paul Hargrove and Dwight Young really pushed us. In fact, Coach Hargrove is the one who instilled me the importance of hard work,” said Hobbs.
Hargrove says that Hobbs is one of his favorite players. “James is just a great person and was such a competitor. James had his unique style of play due to the fact he broke his leg playing youth league baseball. As a basketball player, he was a good rebounder who blocked a lot of shots for us. You could always count on James. You can win a lot of games with a player like James Hobbs,” said Hargrove, a 2010 LCSHOF inductee.
Hobbs would get his opportunity to play basketball at the next level as he signed a scholarship with Calhoun Community College following his senior year at East Limestone. “The two years I spent at Calhoun were two of the best years of my life. Coach (Bob) Shuttlesworth taught me the fundamentals on how to play the sport of basketball. I had a lot of fun,” said Hobbs. The opposition didn’t have a lot of fun guarding Hobbs though. He would lead the Warhawks in scoring both seasons he was in the program. He averaged 16.9 points per game as a sophomore and finished his career averaging 14.6 points per game. The most valuable player on the Calhoun’s team as a sophomore, Hobbs was named to the Alabama Community College Conference All-State Team. In fact, Hobbs junior college career was so distinguished that he was inducted into the Alabama Community College Sports Hall of Fame in 1993.
Former Clements High School standout athlete John Wayne King who competed against Hobbs throughout high school says Hobbs was consistent in his play. “I played against James in high school and was a teammate of his at Calhoun. You always knew what you were going to get from James. He was going to rebound the basketball and he worked hard to get open. Night in and night out, James was going to out work whoever lined up against him, “said King.
While his decision for choosing Calhoun was easy, the decision on where he would spend the final two seasons of his college career was difficult for Hobbs. “My father wanted me to sign with Florence State (now the University of North Alabama) but I had my heart set on Montevallo. They had a really good coach in Bill Jones. Montevallo was a new program and it afforded me an opportunity to play early. Montevallo was just a good fit,” said Hobbs.
Montevallo also provided Hobbs an opportunity to play in a league (Alabama Collegiate Conference) that he was familiar with. “Athens College (now Athens State University) played in the Alabama Collegiate Conference. Coach (Oba) Belcher had a successful program and I remember going to see them play when they had Harold Murrell, Lynn Holladay, Gilmer Ellis and all those really good players. So I had an ideal about the caliber of teams we would be playing against when I got to Montevallo,” said Hobbs.
Hobbs would be one of the Falcons top players during his two-year career with Montevallo. He averaged 19.5 points per game and set numerous school records which included most rebounds in a season (324) and career rebounds per game (10.83 rpg.). He scored 30 or more points in a game on eight separate occasions. Hobbs was named All-Conference and to the All-Alabama Small College team.
“Whew, there were a lot of good teams in the league,” remembers Hobbs. “I always looked forward to playing Athens College because I had great respect for Coach Belcher and his program. Playing at Athens allowed me to play in front of my family and friends. I had great family support.”
Once his playing days were complete, Hobbs entered the coaching profession. He coached at the high school (Erwin HS) and junior college levels (Northeast State CC and Gadsden State CC) before taking the assistant basketball coach job with Jacksonville State University. He helped guide JSU to the national championship in 1985. He is now the head golf coach at Jacksonville State and his teams have won numerous championships.
As far as being inducted into his native county’s hall of fame, Hobbs says it is an honor he never dreamed about. “I am truly honored to be part of this induction class and hall of fame. This means a great deal to me. Being familiar with many that have already been inducted, it is just an honor to be mentioned in the same breath with all the great athletes and coaches that has come through Limestone County,” said Hobbs.