2019 INDUCTEE - GREG SCREWS
By David Elwell
The Decatur Daily
“Growing up I thought I was a pretty good basketball player,” Screws said. “I won the Most Improved Award two years in row at C.M. Newton’s camp in Decatur.”
That’s the comedic side of Screws, who is never shy about making fun of himself. That’s just one side of his personality that has carried him through a successful broadcasting career, first covering sports and now as a new anchor.
Screws will be inducted into the Morgan County Sports Hall of Fame on May 5.
The truth is that Screws really did dream of playing basketball beyond high school. He fell in love with the game at an early age. It started when his father, Truman, was principal at Danville.
“I had easy access to the gym at Danville and I loved every minute I spent there,” Screws said.
He grew up idolizing many of the all-time great players in Morgan County history. Many of them are in the Morgan County Sports Hall of Fame.
“I remember as a kid seeing Ferrell Maples play at Priceville,” Screws said. “Boonie Russell, Gary Orr and Bud Stallworth at Hartselle were my heroes. I saw Randy Lewis and Jerry Warren play at Danville. It was some great basketball.”
The talent level in the county was still great when Screws played in high school for Jackie Coulter.
“There were just four classifications,” Screws said. “We were one of the smallest schools in 4A and we weren’t real good. I think we went 15-14 my senior year.
“The competition in Morgan County was unreal. Austin was loaded. Decatur brought an army of big men to every game. Those guys at Danville had played together since they could walk.”
And then there was West Morgan with 6-8 Tim Thomas, who later starred at Ole Miss.
“When we played West Morgan, Tim Thomas was playing a different game from what I was playing,” Screws said.
Before Screws’ senior season he was invited to a basketball camp at Auburn for top prospects.
“Many of the top players from east of the Mississippi were there,” Screws said. “I went in there thinking I was really good. I had no fear of anybody. I was going to impress some coaches.
“The first day we were doing a drill and this one guy, who one of the top 10 players in the country, went over two other guys for a dunk. I said ‘Oh! This is a much different game.’”
After high school, Screws played two years at Wallace State in Hanceville. He then went to the University of Alabama looking for his future and found in it in broadcasting.
“I was hired by WVTM (Channel 13) in Birmingham and my first day was the day Coach Bryant died,” Screws said. “They gave me a camera and told me to head to Tuscaloosa. I wasn’t even sure how to turn the camera on.”
In 12 years, he covered some of the top sports stories in this state’s history. He was there for Van Tiffin’s kick that lifted Alabama over Auburn. He was there for Lawyer Tillman’s end around that gave Auburn a win over Alabama. He covered the late Davey Allison winning NASCAR races at Talladega and Daytona.
Screws moved on to Richmond, Virginia, for several years and got to cover Atlantic Coast Conference basketball, Washington Redskins football and a heavy dose of NASCAR.
When it comes to picking the No. 1 sporting event he covered in his sports broadcasting career, Screws points to a girls basketball game played at Calhoun Community College on March 12, 1988. It was his alma mater, Hartselle, vs. Pell City for the Class 5A state championship.
That was the game where Alabama’s first Miss Basketball Jeaniece Slater faced Pell City, coached by her father Larry Slater.
“Of all the games I covered in my sports career that was No. 1,” Screws said. “It was an amazing game, but its impact on girls sports in this state was even greater.”
A standing-room only crowd estimated at 4,000 saw Pell City win 76-74 on a shot by Tonya Tice with three seconds left.
“Every time there was an inbounds play, the officials had to get the fans to step back so the player throwing the ball in would have room,” Screws said. “It was as exciting as any game I’ve seen.”
Screws shot most of the game from the gym’s upper level. In the game’s late minutes, he moved down to the floor and had to use his blocking-out techniques from basketball to get room to record the action.
“The build-up for that game was amazing,” Screws said. “The ending exceeded expectations.”
Screws is now a friendly face that comes into homes across North Alabama each evening with the latest news that shapes the community.
“I don’t have any regrets leaving sports,” Screws said, “but I sure do miss seeing some high school basketball.”