Watts to speak
Former Bama QB set to talk at Lawrence County Sports Hall
of Fame banquet
By Bradley Handwerger
firstname.lastname@example.org · 340-2462
When the 2007 class of the Lawrence County Sports Hall of Fame is inducted on April 28, former Alabama standout quarterback Tyler Watts will be the guest speaker.
It's funny, then, that most of the seven inductees have backgrounds in basketball instead of football.
Ceasar Burgess, Larry T. Smith, J.P. Kimbrell, J.W. Hembree, O.D. Bowling, Herley Naylor and Sammy Gholston will be inducted at the banquet at the Alexander Recreation Center in Moulton.
Karen Harrison, secretary of the Sports Hall of Fame, said she isn't surprised at the basketball-heavy resumes.
"At that point in time (in the 1950's and 1960's), I don't think football was that big here, in this county especially," Harrison said.
Watts played at Alabama from 1998-2002, helping the Crimson Tide to a 10-3 year his senior season.
He owns the school record for completion percentage for at least 200 completions at 57.5 percent. He also is fifth in school history with 4,668 total yards.
"He played with certainly some fine teams at Alabama," Harrison said. "I think he'll have something interesting to share with us as far as motivation."
Watts lives in Alabaster, where he works for Nationwide Insurance Co.
Burgess was a three-year basketball letterman at Lawrence County High, averaging 16.6 points and nine rebounds per game. He was an all-county and all-area selection in 1974.
He went on to play collegiately at Brewer State College and Berry College.
Burgess wasn't done with basketball, though. He began coaching at Marietta High in Marietta, Ga., where his teams won the 1999 state championship and made three Final Fours and two regional finals. He currently coaches at Chamblee High outside of Atlanta.
Smith, a 1969 Mount Hope High graduate, started for three years on the basketball team. He averaged 24.5 points per game, including a robust 34.1 point per game average his senior year. His 51 points against Ryan that year were a school record.
The former Yellow Jackets star went to Calhoun Junior College for two years, where, as a sophomore, he averaged 23 points.
Kimbrell led Hazlewood in scoring in three of his four years on varsity. Besides basketball, he was a standout on the football field and baseball diamond.
In 1953, Kimbrell helped the Golden Bears to a state runner-up finish. He was the leading scorer during that tournament. His 61-point performance in 1954 set a state record.
Hembree was a part of Speake's junior varsity and senior varsity basketball teams his freshman year.
The youngster helped the Bobcats win both county tournaments, with the JV team going 22-0, the first undefeated basketball team in school history.
After moving to Chicago upon graduation, Hembree was offered a scholarship to Valparaiso University, but before practice began, he was called to serve in the U.S. Army.
Naylor, a Lawrence County High graduate, was a standout in football and basketball. His freshman year, the basketball team went undefeated.
His senior season, he was co-captain of the A-team and was an all-county and all-tournament selection.
Bowling transferred to Lawrence County High in 1952, playing three years on the varsity football team.
He lettered two years on the basketball team, averaging 17 points. In 1954 and '55, he earned all-county honors. Bowling also started three years as a catcher on the baseball team.
Gholston was a standout football player at Mount Hope, earning a scholarship to Austin Peay State University in Tennessee.
At Mount Hope, Gholston played football, basketball, baseball and ran track. In 1986, Gholston earned all-tournament honors for his play in the Class 1A basketball tournament.
Tickets for the banquet are $20 and may be purchased by calling Harrison at 974-2401 or Billy Rains at 974-6666.
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