The First Twin Towers—Carl Roberson and Wesley Forbes

Published 7:48 am Wednesday, May 22, 2019


Long before New York City had their twin towers and many years before Shaq and Ralph Sampson played in the NBA, a small community outside of Elizabethton produced a couple of players that weren’t quite as tall but played liked they were.

Carl Roberson and Wes Forbes, who played for Hampton on the 1960 State Championship team, wasn’t as famous as guys like Jerry White and Willie Malone but they played their part well on the team and became known as the “Little men from the Mountains.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Coach Buck Van Huss was still talking about his center and forward and what great players they were thirty years after coaching some of the best and biggest players in the state of Tennessee.

He stated, “They were the best. No one could play better thank Carl and Wes, they were a good team.”

Roberson played on three Watauga Conference championship teams for Coach Van Huss.

During those three years, Hampton won 116 games and only lost 14 playing Science Hill, Kingsport, Newport, and all the big teams for there was just one division back then.

Roberson averaged over ten points a game and many times had over twenty rebounds each night.   

Carl’s junior season he averaged over nine points a game and was a big asset to the Bulldogs’ team.

He was voted All-State in 1960 and All-Watauga Conference in 1959. His sophomore year he helped Hampton defeat Kingsport and win the conference title while winning 41 games with only three losses.

Carl was also a track star at Hampton winning the conference in the high jump. He led the ‘Dogs in rebounds with 351 his senior year. He, along with Forbes is credited with starting a Hampton scholarship fund for students entering college.

Forbes hit six of eight free throws in the final quarter to lead the Bulldogs over Union City for the State Title.

An incredible feat that was nearly impossible in the ’60s, Forbes finished the final game leading the Bulldogs in scoring with 15 points and 13 rebounds.

In his senior season for Hampton, Wes scored 490 points and pulled down 294 rebounds.  The Dogs finished the 1960 season winning 44 games with only four losses.  Forbes would also shoot 256 free throws, Roberson hit one more with 257. Not bad for a center and forward to shoot that many free throws in a season.

Forbes and Roberson would give the Legendary Van Huss his 200th win late in the season and the coach would go on to be Tennessee winningest basketball coach with 1,021 wins.  Van Huss needed only eight more wins to be the winningest coach in the nation.

After school, Forbes would go on to serve in the U.S. Navy.   

Forbes stated Coach Van Huss would go out of his way to help a person better themselves,

“In the summer between my junior and senior year, I was thinking about leaving school and joining the Navy. My dad was against the ideal and called coach Van Huss to our house to talk to me.

“One of the things I remember him saying was, “The Navy will always be there but finishing school must come first.” What Coach Van Huss said that day pushed the Navy thought right out of my mind and I finished my senior year at Hampton.

Wes continued, “Coach Van Huss made many calls to area colleges on our behalf. He got me a try-out at Appalachian State in the summer of 1960. He drove his own car and come by my house and took me to the try-out in Boone, North Carolina where we spent most of the day.

“There was one opening at the college and there were two of us trying out for the position. After the try-out, they said they would call. The call eventually came after I had completed the first quarter at East Tennessee State and I had joined the Navy for a four-year commitment.”

Teammate Willie Malone said “In the world of basketball I grew up in, the MVP’s were judged by the points they scored. Carl and Wes were the MVPs of the 1960 team.

“They were focused and laser beamed in on rebounds, blocking shots and stealing the long passes.  If it hadn’t been for Wes and Carl, we would not have won the state tournament.”

Coach Van Huss had once said, “Carl and Wes could do so many little things. They were the best at running the scissor. That meant that one of them would come up while the other would go back.

“They caused a lot of turnovers and they ran the scissors perfectly. I credit them with winning the Murfreesboro game in the state tournament.  We were only ahead by one and we needed the ball really bad,” VanHuss stated.

Murfreesboro had a great left-hander, Nunley, who was a great ball player. We run the scissors on them, Forbes faked coming up and them Wes did the same and caused Nunley to travel and we got the ball back. They hit their foul shots and we won the game.”

Both Carl and Wes were a part of a great team that did something unbelievable by winning a state title.

They became nicknamed the “Little Men from the Mountains” because they were only six-foot-tall but had to play teams with players 6’ 11 and averaging heights of 6’4 and 6’5.

You might say they had to play over their head to win so many games. Hampton scored many times in the high 80’s and ’90s and even scored 115 points against Lamar when there was no three-point shot and no double bonus on free throws.

Only five high school state titles have been won in basketball from Carter County, four boys and only one girls’ gold ball has returned to our area since the TSSAA started a state tournament back in the 1920s.