Hammon was a developing situation at GV
By KARL PEARSON
While he developed into a very fine basketball player, it probably was hard to tell what kind of player Chris Hammon would become when he was younger.
When he was growing up, the family of Ray and Sally Hammon lived in Windsor. Chris was the second of their children, following brother Russell and preceding sister Kim and brother Lee.
ONE OF THE STANDOUTS for the Grand Valley basketball team during its special season of 1974-75 was Chris Hammon (44).
“My parents still live there,” Hammon said.
He did get into basketball quite quickly, playing on the fifth- and sixth-grade teams at Windsor Elementary School.
“We used to play all the other schools in the district, like Colebrook, Orwell and Rome,” Hammon said.
By the seventh grade, he was beginning to sprout toward his eventual 6-foot-5 frame. But that didn’t guarantee a thing when Hammon got to junior high basketball.
“I was cut from the seventh-grade team,” he said. “When I was in the eighth grade, they let me play on the seventh-grade team. That taught me to hang on and stick with it. If I hadn’t played that second year, I probably would have quit basketball.
“Bill Schaub was the coach for the seventh- and eighth-grade teams. He was an enjoyable coach.”
Hammon’s playing time didn’t pick up appreciably when he got to Grand Valley High School.
“I never really played at the freshman level,” he said. “You either started or you really didn’t play. But I continued to grow.”
That continuing growth pattern earned him a spot on the JV squad of Larry Osborne as a sophomore, while Dave Guerine was the varsity coach. He gained some valuable playing time at that level and earned the respect of Osborne.
“We got to scrimmage the varsity a lot,” Hammon said. “I was playing against guys like Randy Chronister, Mike McNish and Dave Stanek.
“I was up to 6-5 and about 150 pounds by the end of my sophomore year. I think my coordination was starting to catch up with me, too.”
Osborne was a very key element in Hammon’s development.
“(Osborne) was a really big defensive guy,” he said. “We did lots of line drills, too. He could yell some, but we got along well. He really emphasized boxing out on rebounds and everybody being able to dribble the ball.
“He even had me dabble in track a little bit, running the hurdles. But that didn’t last long. I fell one time and that was it.”
Apparently, Osborne was building Hammon up for big contributions in his junior year, especially when he became GV’s head coach for the 1973-74 season. It was a big developmental year for other players like D.J. Chutas, Ken Lawrence, Carl Renwick, who, as the son of boxing promoter Don King, became Carl King, Andy Holloman and Jim Gabriel, too.
“There were only three seniors on the team when I was a junior,” Hammon said. “We didn’t have any star players.
“Tim Chronister and Harry Humphries were two of our seniors. I played along with D.J. Chutas (the younger brother of future GV girls basketball coach Ron Chutas) and Carl Renwick. Andy Holloman, Ken Lawrence and Jim Gabriel were backups.”
The results for the Mustangs in Hammon’s junior year weren’t great, as they finished 6-13 for Osborne. But he molded Hammon into a player who was good enough to earn first-team All-GRC honors.
Osborne was gone by the next year, but he left a little bit of himself behind for new coach Terry Marsh.
“We ran a play that got me the ball down low,” Hammon said. “Coach Marsh kept it. In fact, we called it LO for Larry Osborne.”
There was a feeling in the Mustang camp that good things were in store for the 1974-75 season, but Hammon claims he and his classmates didn’t do anything particularly special in preparation for it.
“We thought we could be a pretty good team, but back then, you didn’t do anything in the summers like the players do now,” he said. “We played some in the summer, but that was about it.”