Butch Antolini Published

W.Va. Hoops Legend Talks 50 Years Of Memories


Jim Hamric is a legend when it comes to West Virginia high school athletics. The longtime coach, administrator and conference commissioner sat down with West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s interim executive director Butch Antolini, courtside during the recent state basketball tournament, to reflect on basketball history in the Mountain State.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity. 

Antolini: How many years have you been coming to the state basketball tournament?

Hamric: I think I started when I was about a junior in high school because I lived in Spencer and a guy named Estes Barker, really one of my best friends ever, took me when I was either a sophomore or junior when it was at Huntington. And then I started going to Morgantown and Charleston. And I think it’s about 54, 55 years that I’ve been. There were about four years there I was in Oklahoma going to college when I didn’t go. As soon as I got back and started coaching in West Virginia, I’ve been pretty much consecutively since the winter of 1978. So quite a few.

Antolini: What are some of the best memories you have of the state basketball tournaments? 

Hamric: Maybe one of the best is when they got this building finished right here. And they finally had room for everyone to come and that was a big deal. Because of the civic center, they built all these hotels and motels. I remember talking to a guy that was at a prep school down in Virginia.

Antolini: Fork Union?  

Hamric: That’s it. That’s it. It was Fletcher Arritt. We talked right over there one day. He said he’d been to a lot of state tournaments in the south like Virginia, North and South Carolina and Georgia and all them. Even Florida. He said there’s nothing like the West Virginia state high school basketball tournament.

Antolini: Do you remember any particular games that you think about?  

Hamric: Yes, there is. When Randy Moss played Beckley about 11 o’clock, right here. And the place was jam packed, and Randy Moss jumped over the moon. And he had Jason Williams — he had two other professional athletes. Four guys, professional athletes on the same team. And they didn’t win the state championship. But boy, that game was just phenomenal. I really thought Randy Moss would be an NBA player. I really did.

Antolini: He was just a pure athlete.

Hamric: I watched him in high school football too. And, you know, he wasn’t real keen about going over the middle, he would do that. But he really liked going deep. And he’s still going deep.

Antolini: He made a career out of it didn’t he?

Hamric: He made a wonderful career. And now he’s a broadcaster. I am so proud of him. I really don’t know him, but I know that he’s come along. He was a wonderful ambassador for our state.

Antolini: Any others?

Hamric: Well, there’s lots. Now that I’ve been commissioner of the conference, I really support my teams. And it’s always nice for our teams out of the conference, to make it to the semis or especially make it to the finals. Sometimes we win, sometimes, not many times, we lose. I’m just tickled to death that I am a part of that and can support those teams. I’m a lucky, lucky individual.