Hawks Get Hubbard, Risks
Juco All American guard Anthony Hubbard selected Iowa over Nebraska early Saturday morning, signifying a recruiting victory for Fran McCaffery as well as signifying a big risk McCaffery and Athletics Director Gary Barta are taking. Here is a link to Iowa’s official release as Hubbard has signed his letter of intent.
In early March, Rob Howe from HawkeyeInsider wrote an excellent article on Anthony Hubbard, ‘the other guy’ who visited Iowa City the weekend the Hawks hosted point guard Cezar Guerrero.
In the item, Howe shed light on Hubbard’s past, one that included a nearly four-year stretch in prison due to a robbery conviction when he was 18 years old. That’s not four years of probation, that’s three years and eleven months in prison. Hard and real time.
Stories of former inmates not being able to change their lives and who they run with after getting out of prison are legion. The fact that Hubbard has gotten this far, more than four years after his release from a nearly four year prison term, is a victory of sorts.
Hubbard has maintained a B average in the classroom during his time in junior college, this after earning his high school diploma while taking courses in prison.
There was incident this past winter where Hubbard was charged with misdemeanor assault, but those charges were later dropped according to this item. In this article (that is worth a read) Hubbard said the following:
“It was a misunderstanding between two girls and I got caught in the middle of it,” Hubbard said. “One girl took out charges, but then dropped the charges.”
For the most part, Hubbard has walked the line away from the basketball court since his release from prison and during his time at junior college. He’s certainly excelled on the court, averaging close to 21 points and more than 10 rebounds per game last year. To say that he can help Iowa in 2011-2012 and the following season would be an understatement.
Hubbard is not an outside shooter and he does not excel at the free throw line where he shot just over 60% this past year. What he can do is get to the rim and he is strong in the paint. Hubbard shot the ball 227 times, two fewer attempts than Melsahn Basabe had for Iowa this past year. He attempted 219 free throws. Iowa’s leader in free throw attempts this year was Basabe who had 112. Yeah, that’s not a misprint as I double and triple checked those numbers. Hubbard also had 122 assists, which would have been second on Iowa last year.
I am not saying his Juco stats are going to automatically and linearly translate to the Big Ten level, rather I am giving you an idea of his overall game. Strength at the rim, ability to get to the rim off the dribble, strong physical presence on the glass and also someone that is willing to dish it off to a teammate…not a great outside shooter.
You would expect the physical aspects of the Big Ten to fit in nicely to Hubbard’s game. He is 26 year old man after all and has been places and seen things that most of his college peers will hopefully never see. He is likely well equipped to handle adversity, certainly any on court adversity that may come his way over the next two years.
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He is going to make Iowa a better basketball team. He has abilities Iowa really, really needed. Someone that can take some pressure off of Basabe on the block. Someone that can get to the rim to so defenders will have to sag off of Iowa’s shooters in the form of Matt Gatens and Josh Oglesby. Cartwright may also find driving lanes a little bit wider with an offensive player like Hubbard in the mix.
In Oglesby and Aaron White, Iowa is adding players that will likely be able to put the ball in the basket and have a role on next year’s team. Hubbard can certainly score and will likely be a key cog next year right away.
The risks involved in taking Hubbard are very few ON the court.
If Hubbard can continue to walk the line in his social and academic life, then this will likely prove to be a move that pays considerable dividends for the Iowa basketball program. If he doesn’t walk that line, if he has any sort of off the court incidents where law enforcement is involved, the blow back on the program as well as the Athletic Department will likely be amplified given Hubbard’s past.
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That being said, McCaffery, Gary Barta and other members of the Athletic Department know this; their eyes are wide open and they are not innocent doves here. They spoke to a number of people related to Hubbard. They spoke with his Juco coaches, they spoke with people in his home area. They are convinced his off the court issues are in his past and don’t deem him to be a risk going forward.
Most of what Hubbard has said publicly since he came onto Iowa’s radar speaks to someone that understands all of these things. He is not a naive teenager, he realizes that the team that gave him a second chance was going to take a few shots before he even stepped on the court because of his past. He does not shy away from his past or try to hide anything; to the contrary, he has talked openly about his poor choices and he speaks with the maturity of someone that has learned a lesson…someone that knows what it’s like to have options and freedom taken away from him and someone that is truly thankful for a second opportunity to make his own way in this world.
Hubbard’s transgressions didn’t take place last week or last year; these things happened over eight years ago. The nine years between the age of 17 and 26 are actually far more than just nine years…the things we learn about life in that time can be like dog years…life’s lessons are typically larger and more ‘impactful’ because our decision making skills are still suspect.
Anthony Hubbard had three years and eleven months behind bars to analyze his poor decisions, and it appears as though he came through that experience determined to choose a different path in life.
I love second chance stories, I love granting second chances when I have the opportunity and I am thankful for the second chances that have been afforded me in my life and will continue to be afforded to me in the future by those who would grant me such grace.
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Anthony Hubbard’s story is truly interesting and unique at the college level…there is the chance for quite a happy ending for him and he can be a part of a rebuilding effort for a basketball program that is looking for a second chance from its fans…this program led by a coach whose resume has ‘second chance’ written all over it, as Fran McCaffery has been the architect of three different rebuilding jobs during his career.
While I understand those Iowa fans who would have rather seen Iowa pass on someone with Hubbard’s past, I am also extremely interested what the next two years will look like.
The thing about second chances is that they don’t always work out…there have been instances where I have given people a second chance and that dog has come back to bite me a second time. However, there have been instances where people have flourished after being granted a second chance, after showing they were worthy of a second chance and I can tell you the reward is as significant for the person that granted the grace as it is to the person who received it.
I hope this story turns out to be like the latter.
Give Hubbard’s own words a listen for yourself at this free audio interview link from Rob Howe from today (4/23/11). See what you hear.
Here is a video of Hubbard’s announcement today