Big Man on Campus
STATESBORO, Ga. - Chester Webb, the all-time leading scorer and rebounder in the history of the men's basketball program had his Georgia Teachers College No. 22 jersey retired on Saturday, January 30. The ceremony took place at halftime of the College of Charleston-Georgia Southern game.
A 6-7, 180 lb. center from Elberton, Ga., Webb was named to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution collegiate all-state team all four years, the first individual to earn the honor every year of his career. Selected as an All-American after the 1955 and 1956 seasons, Webb was picked in the NBA draft following his senior year. Webb's jersey number is only the fourth to be retired in the history of the program. The other three retired jersey banners hanging in Hanner include Scotty Perkins (Georgia Teachers College #15), Jeff Sanders (Georgia Southern #42) and Michael Curry (Georgia Southern #20).
Webb's basketball career, and his life, would be influenced by Roger Parsons, who had played basketball at Georgia Teachers College for the legendary J.B. Scearce. When Parsons became the new basketball coach at Elbert County High School, he couldn't understand why Chester Webb, the tallest boy in the school, wasn't on the basketball team.
Despite not playing "organized" basketball, Webb was no stranger to the sport. He would play at home, using a tire rim affixed to the barn as a hoop, but the five-mile distance from the high school to his family's farm might as well have been 500 miles. It simply wasn't practical for Webb to walk home after basketball practice. Webb hitchhiked occasionally, but it proved not to be the most reliable mode of transportation. Parsons eventually talked Webb into coming out for the team and was willing to drive Webb home in his pickup truck after practice each day.
The 6-7 Webb, tallest among his eight siblings, was a naturally gifted athlete. He made the all-state team as a senior and scored the most points in the Region 2-A Tournament for the Blue Devils. Selected to play for the North team in the state's annual North-South all-star game, Webb received scholarship offers from both the University of Georgia and Clemson University.
It seemed a natural progression for Webb to follow his coach's path and accept a full scholarship to attend college in Statesboro and play basketball for "The Professors." A four-year starter, Webb not only would earn a place on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's all-state collegiate team, he was the first freshman ever selected for that prestigious squad. Four years later, as a senior, the Professors' No. 22 was the only unanimous choice of the senior college coaches who voted for the team.
If the basketball coaches of the state of Georgia thought Webb was something special, he was even more highly regarded for his abilities on campus. One of the most prolific scorers and one of the best all-around players in the history of the program, Webb's name is etched in the record book 18 times. He has reigned as the all-time leading scorer and rebounder in the history of the program since his final game in a GTC uniform, tallying 2,542 points and 1,685 rebounds.
His single-season scoring averages for the 1954-55 and 1955-56 seasons rank as the two highest. Over his collegiate career, he scored more than 40 points nine times and more than 30 points in 15 games, more than any other player before, then or since. Webb not only set many individual records at Georgia Teachers College, but also helped his teams set team records and achieve success at the state, regional and national level.
"The biggest difference between our team at GTC and other teams, was that most tall people weren't quick," said Chester Webb, who holds the distinction of being the first native Georgian to be selected as a basketball All-American in the state of Georgia. "We were pretty tall, we were agile and we could run."
After graduating with his degree in physical education, Webb received an invitation to join the 1956 U.S. Olympic basketball team and was drafted by the Nationals of the National Basketball Association, in what would be the equivalent of today's first round.
The United States' Army had a different draft pick in mind for Webb and he served his country for two years. With his basketball skills, Webb was quickly recruited to play for the Army and picked as a member of the All-Army basketball team where Webb and his teammates played in AAU tournaments. The talent on the teams included players like the legendary Boston Celtic K.C. Jones.
Webb fulfilled his military service and then signed on to play basketball with the Gibbs Corporation in the industrial league. He ended his professional basketball career, but did not leave basketball behind, beginning a career in public education, where the sport continued to play a large role in his life. A high school basketball coach for six years in Appling County, Webb took two teams to the state playoffs.
He returned to his hometown of Elberton and coached his high school team for seven years and also taught woodworking. With positions in school administration and supervision, including time as the principal of two elementary schools, Webb also served as director of two county-wide programs and as Assistant Superintendent of Elbert County Schools for eight years.
- Category: Men's Basketball
- Published on Saturday, 30 January 2010 00:01