James C. “Jimmy” Campbell was a fixture on the Blount County sporting scene for more than half a century.
The Maryville College and Maryville High School icon has been sorely missed since his death last August. To help ensure his former coach and mentor is always remembered, Maryville College coach Randy Lambert is sending his Scots to the hardwood this weekend as hosts of the inaugural James C. Campbell Memorial Tournament at Boydson Baird Gymnasium.
Former Division III national champion Wabash College and LaGrange (Ga.) College will tip things off Saturday at 5 p.m., with the Scots and the Webster University Gorlocks of St. Louis following at 7. Webster is under the direction of former Maryville assistant Chris Bunch.
Sunday, LaGrange and Webster tip at 2, with Maryville and the Wabash Little Giants starting at 4. Wabash is coached by former University of Tennessee Vol Mac Petty, a member of the school’s 1967 Southeastern Conference championship team.
“It’ll be a good field,” Lambert said. “It’ll be two good opponents and a good way to kick off this tournament.”
Campbell was an All-American in football at Maryville College in the early 1950s, after graduation moving on to Maryville High, where he coached boys basketball and served as the school’s athletics director. Lambert played basketball for Campbell at Maryville High, following the latter to the college after high school.
Lambert began his coaching career at Lenoir City High before being recommended by Campbell for the then vacant position at Maryville College. Lambert was in his early 20s at the time.
“Coach Campbell was the one person that motivated me in my younger days to become a coach,” Lambert said.
When former Scot T.R. Robinson proposed a tournament to honor Campbell, Lambert said he didn’t have to be asked twice.
“He got to know coach Campbell very well,” Lambert said. “He came to me last spring (about the tournament), and of course I jumped all over it.”
The Scots played to a rousing season debut last weekend at Boydson Baird, senior Greg Hernandez pacing Maryville to a 94-52 rout of Methodist University. Hernandez finished with a double-double of 25 points and 10 rebounds, hitting 11 of his 16 shots from the field. Junior All-American guard Eryk Watson followed Hernandez on the score sheet with 17 points, with senior Jared Laverdiere adding 12 and junior Ben Williamson 10.
Maryville tickled 100 against the Monarchs despite a 4-for-22 showing from 3-point range.
“We spent a little time working on our perimeter shooting (Tuesday),” Lambert said. “I’m not overly concerned about our poor shooting — yet.”
It would be cause for alarm had not the Scots collected 20 offensive rebounds on the afternoon, he said.
“That’s a good sign,” Lambert said. “I think rebounding is a developed mentality. It’s not something you teach. You just develop the ability to go get the basketball.”
Junior college transfer Brandon McGill led Maryville on the offensive glass with five boards.