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Boys Athlete of the Week: Johnson's James Hodges

Senior averaged 20 points, 10.5 rebounds this past week

POSTED: January 6, 2014 10:48 p.m.

Transitioning from Johnson’s sixth man to a role in the starting lineup hasn’t been very difficult for James Hodges.

In fact, Hodges has excelled, and the Knights are once again the front-runners to win the Region 8-AAAA championship this season.

“Last year, he was our sixth man, but his role was pretty much like he was the sixth starter,” Johnson coach Jeff Steele said. “This year he has just stepped up and taken over for Montrell (McKenzie). He has been a difficult problem for other teams.”

Despite his 6-foot-2 frame, Hodges has been able to use, as Steele describes, his “crafty” ability down low to make up for what he lacks in size. That ability to perform at a high level was on display this past weekend, when Hodges recorded back-to-back double-doubles in a pair of non-region victories.

The senior scored 20 points and hauled in 10 rebounds in the Knights’ 79-62 win over Cambridge on Friday night, following it up with a 20-point, 11-rebound performance in a 78-64 win over Dunwoody. For his efforts, Hodges has been named The Times’ boys athlete of the week.

“I just made a commitment to my team,” Hodges said. “I play a big role in the team. I’m the shortest guy that plays the post. I just try to get as many rebounds, as many hustle plays as I can.”

Performances like what Hodges put together last weekend have become quite normal to see. Hodges is averaging 18 points and 10 rebounds per game this season, says Steele, and he has the ability to find the next level when it matters most.

“He’s a gamer,” Steele said. “He usually plays good in games. Sometimes his practices aren’t at the levels I want them to be, but if you have to choose between those two, you’d rather have the gamer. So when the lights come on and there are people in the stands, he seems to turn it up a notch. That’s impressive.”

Among the traits that make Hodges so crafty, as Steele describes it, is his body control and being left-handed, which Steele believes gives teams problems.

“He gets a lot done with a little bit of size,” Steele said. “He has real good body control and of course him being left-handed helps him; it is awkward for people. He just knows how to finish and how to position himself.

“As far as rebounding goes, he just has a knack for the thing. He always seems to be in the right place at the right time.”

A major reason for Hodges’ success down low — defying the odds with the build of a player more accustomed to shooting from outside the perimeter — is attributed to the hours he and his teammates dedicated to working in the gym.

“Before the season, in the offseason, we woke up at 6 in the morning, came in the gym and got stuff done,” Hodges said.

Although Johnson won the region championship a season ago, the Knights were ousted from the Class AAAA state playoffs with a 54-49 loss to Shaw in the first round, a defeat that has been a driving motivation for this season.

In order to prepare his team for what lies ahead in the postseason, Steele scheduled tougher non-region competition for the Knights, so they would be “battle tested” for the state tournament.

So far, the outcome has been good. The Knights won the annual Lanierland Tournament, and they’re currently 10-3 on the season.

“I feel like playing a hard non-region schedule is going to set us up for Macon,” Hodges said. “When we get deep, we’ve already played teams who we are going to play in Macon.”


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