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No surprise: Ross promoted to head coach of Eagles

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No surprise: Ross promoted to head coach of Eagles

PETER STEIN/NEWS-SUN

No shocker, no spoilers here. Ronald Ross becoming the Hobbs boys varsity head basketball coach might be the least surprising personnel move the Eagles have ever made.

It seemed inevitable when Ross was hired as a Hobbs assistant coach a year and a half ago. It seemed destined to be when head coach Shelby Reeves announced last year that the 2023-24 season would be his last.

And throughout that season, when Reeves let Ross do most of the coaching, run most of the practices, Ross was apparently being groomed to take over the job.

But that’s not the only reason why the promotion is unsurprising. There’s also Ross’ journey to the role; he seems to have been a Hobbs head coach in the making his whole life.

– Consider that as an elementary school kid, Ross was mentored by legendary Eagles coach Ralph Tasker, whose name is on the building where Hobbs basketball games take place.

– Consider that Ross played high school basketball for Hobbs, was coached up by Russ Gilmore, and helped the Eagles win three state titles in a row.

– Ross was coached by an all-time great, Bobby Knight, while playing college basketball for Texas Tech. Future Tech head coach Chris Beard was an associate head coach back then, so he too coached Ross, who later worked as an assistant on Beard’s Texas Tech staff.

– Ross has played professionally in Greece, France, Germany, Italy, Croatia, Romania, Cyprus, and Israel.

– And he has spent the last two seasons working with and learning from Reeves.

It all seems to add up to Ross being an ideal fit for the Hobbs position. Destiny perhaps.

“I’m heavily faith-based,” Ross said, “and I think it’s God’s work. Because I didn’t anticipate this five years ago.”

“We’re elated,” Hobbs Athletic Director Brenda Wilson said. “We knew that was the move that we wanted to make. It’s a great investment because he’s going to do great with our program and the kids we have here in Hobbs. He’s a gold standard guy. He brings a lot to the table. He’s going to be a great asset to the Hobbs coaching staff.”

“It’s probably one of the best hires that they can ever get,” Reeves said. “Ronald is going to do a great job. He knows his stuff, he’s well-known in the community. He has passion for the community, passion for the Hobbs Eagles. He was already in it this year, he was already doing his thing, and with almost everybody (on the roster) coming back, I think he’s going to do a great job.”

Ross is certainly ready for it.

“Oh man, it’s very exciting, it’s very humbling,” he said. “It’s more of a calm feeling than anything; I’m definitely excited, but I got really calm and really focused when I got the job. I’m blessed with an opportunity to become a head coach and excited to build on a legacy that’s already got so much value.”

Ross was working at a sales position in the Dallas area when he was hired onto Reeves’ staff in 2022. Less than two years removed from that, he is the Eagles’ head coach, and now has all that basketball experience on which to draw.

There are the memories of the kid who learned from Tasker.

“Investing the time in your players,” Ross said, “investing the time in your community, no matter what. Whether you were the star player on varsity or you were a snotty nosed second-grader in the gym, if you had love for the game he was right there with you, loving it with you. One thing I learned from him was his taking the time with the players. When you do it you’ll have kids that will run through a wall for you.”

Then there are the memories of the college basketball walk-on playing for the tough but thorough Knight at Texas Tech.

“For sure, I’ve learned a ton from Coach Knight,” Ross said. “He’s really the core of how I think. One thing that made Coach Knight the great coach that he was – he never strayed from the fundamentals of the game. He’d take the elevator down to floor 1 and start from there. As a coach you have to teach them from the first step and start from there. Everything else, whether it’s talent, height, speed, is just a bonus.”

Reeves, who convinced Ross to return to his alma mater as an assistant coach in 2022, passed on a lot of knowledge to him.

“Shelby really taught him a lot about the administrative part of coaching in high school,” Wilson said, “the transportation and the responsibilities, the little ins and outs that you have to do when you’re a head coach, aside from Xs and Os. Running camps, eligibility, he learned that. This was a great year to get him acclimated to the high school level because most of his experience is in college basketball.”

“I’ve been blessed to learn the operational side of everything,” Ross said. “I can’t imagine coming into this role today without learning what I’ve learned from him the past year.”

The education from Reeves involved more than just the operational side.

“I think he’s an incredible communicator,” Ross said, “whether it’s communicating to the team, communicating to the people around him, it’s a special gift of his, creating a culture. He has a presence when he’s around.”

Perhaps the best thing Reeves could’ve done for Ross was let him get experience running the program, on and off the court.

“That’s how you learn,” Reeves said. “You learn some good and some bad things. The kids we had last year, almost all of them are coming back, so it’s not like you have to relearn names of kids. You’ve got your team coming back. They can go in there and get going. Now he can put the pieces together, what he felt like could have been done better this year and take out some things that he thinks won’t work.”

Ross already knows how he wants his team to play.

“We’ll definitely be a running team,” he said. “We want to play at a higher pace, want to be the team that’s in the best shape in the state. Defensively, nothing’s going to change. Defense is going to be the core of what we do. We’ll start with defense because everything that happens comes out of defense.”

Ross has been a science teacher since returning to Hobbs High, but says that could change in the near future. What won’t change is Ross’ commitment to the program that once included him as a player, his dedication to the goal of bringing a state championship back to Hobbs.

“It’s really maximizing the days,” he said, “laying one brick at a time and making sure you’re prepared for what every day has to bring. You can build so much by taking advantage of the time you have in front of you.”

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