Hubbard Angles

April 24, 2011

Written by Jon Miller

Hawkeye Nation

“A mistake is a mistake if you don’t learn from it. If you learn from it, it becomes a lesson.”

We are approaching 48 hours since Anthony Hubbard committed to the Iowa basketball program and the discussions, in some cases debates, are still going strong.

I guess that’s bound to happen when you sign a 26-year old from the Juco ranks who spent 47 months in prison beginning when he was 18 due to his involvement in a robbery.

Yeah, that’s to be expected.

While I certainly understand and respect those who have an opinion that this is a risky move for Iowa, and while I acknowledge there is some risk involved, the level of ‘risk’ is where I may differ with some folks right now.

According to court records, Hubbard turned himself in and plead guilty to his involvement in a robbery in 2003. His role in the crime was that of the driver of the ‘getaway’ car if you will. It was a very bad choice and Hubbard paid the price.

He was released from prison in 2007.

Since then, he has made important changes in his life. He’s changed the people he has socialized with. He’s made the decision that he can do something with his life, that the big mistake he made when he was 18 does not have to define the rest of his life. He went the Junior College route, not initially being able to attend the school he wanted to because they were not sold he was worth the risk. He went away from ‘home’ for a year and played for a Juco in Texas. After that year, he again applied to the home area Juco and was admitted and excelled, earning second team Juco All American honors. All of those associated with him speak very highly of the person he has become.

When analyzing stories like this and figuring out how I feel about them, I typically run things through filters of personal experience and I suspect others do the same. Not everyone, but many folks do this.

I think back to times in my life and decisions I have made…some when I was 18 and glad I didn’t get caught…I think back to when I was 19 and was arrested for DUI….I think back to the 18 some odd years where I abused alcohol and how I nearly lost everything I presently hold dear and could not live without, namely my family. I think about the people that gave me one more chance when perhaps I didn’t deserve it and when my near term behavior certainly didn’t create a lot of confidence that I would make the mandatory changes I needed to make to save my family.

Yet, I was afforded another chance and have not touched alcohol since that day in 2006 and never intend to touch it again in my life.

Some might say that I am a big risk to drink again, because for much of my life, I made repeated bad decisions as it relates to drinking. Some might say I don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt now, some four-plus years after my last drink, because I was an alcoholic earlier in my life. However my behavior, my choices and my decisions since ‘hitting the bottom’ have served as a positive confirmation to those who offered me grace that I was worthy of the grace they afforded me.

You can continue to debate whether or not The University of Iowa should have been the school to offer Anthony Hubbard a scholarship, or a ‘second chance’. I cannot sit here and make an air tight argument to refute that notion, because it’s truly a matter of opinion.

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You can say that one of the main reasons, perhaps the real reason Iowa gave Hubbard a scholarship is because he can help them win basketball games right away. You can confidently say that if Hubbard were just a ‘good’ or ‘average’ Juco player, we wouldn’t even be having these discussions….you’d be right.

However, we are at the place in time where Hubbard has not only verbally committed to Iowa, he has signed a binding letter of intent to attend and play for The University of Iowa. He has committed to them and they have committed to him.

So where are we?

In my opinion, we are at the point where this debate should turn inward…where folks should look at their own pasts. Granted, there probably aren’t a lot of you with felonies on your ‘record’, however I am willing to bet more than a few of you have done things in your past that you wouldn’t want made public or that you are glad you didn’t get caught doing, when you were younger.

This isn’t to make an excuse for Hubbard’s horrible decision; he made it and he certainly paid a penalty for it.

We’re also at the point where examining what Hubbard has done since being release from prison, in his social life and in the classroom has to come to bear and count for something.

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Whether you like it or not, he is a Hawkeye right now and will be until he either uses up his eligibility in two seasons or makes another decision that forces a revocation of that opportunity.

There are some that are wringing their hands right now, worried that he is a higher risk to get in trouble off the court than an 18 year old freshman with no track record of impropriety would be.

Again, look inward.

18 year old players arriving on Iowa’s campus and therefore exposed to the ‘night life’ of Iowa City are tempted by a lot of things that can lead to seeing their name in the paper for things we can say are less than positive. The draw of the temptations that can put you in a tough spot are stronger when you are younger and less mature, a time of your life when you don’t have much real life history to draw upon.

Hubbard is 26 years old and he has seen things and been to places that none of his teammates has been exposed to and hopefully never will be.

I would contend, given Hubbard’s track record the past four years, that he is LESS LIKELY to wind up in a bad spot off the court in Iowa City. He, more so than any of his teammates, knows what he stands to lose by making a bad decision because he’s been there; life experience can be a brutal teacher when you’ve made bad choices.

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Did you ever come back to your college campus or to any college campus or bar scene five or six years after you graduated from college? Visit any of your old haunts? Make a stroll through the frat house? If you have, my guess is you have had a few awkward moments…moments where you felt like an ‘old man’ so to speak, and realized you no longer had much in common with those people and places.

I suspect Anthony Hubbard is at a different place socially than his teammates are at. It will be interesting to see how he meshes with his teammates due to this ‘age gap’, but it’s not hard to imagine Hubbard being a player that spends a LOT of time in the new basketball practice facility, where players have 24/7 access. It will be interesting to see if he turns out to be a very positive influence on some of the younger players because of this age and experience gap.

When others might think to head up to the Ped Mall, Hubbard may choose to hit the practice court or study tables and spend time in areas that will be far more beneficial to his future, since all of the sudden, he has one again.

That quote I posted at the top of this item didn’t come from some signer of the Declaration of Independence or some head of state…it came from Anthony Hubbard just last week to a hometown paper.

Regardless of its source, it’s an accurate reflection of life, along the lines of if you don’t learn from your mistakes, you are going to repeat them. They hold no value if you continue the same behavior that landed you in trouble in the first place.

By all accounts, Hubbard has buckled down and made changes in his life to afford him this second opportunity at a life.

I am not here to say you have to be tickled pink about it, however the dye is cast and the genie is out of the bottle; Anthony Hubbard is a member of the Iowa basketball program

Until he actually does something to change that, I am choosing to give him and the Iowa coaching staff that brought him to Iowa, the benefit of the doubt, based upon his actions the past four years.

That, and there’s nothing I can do about it if I felt differently.

NOTE: In case your missed it over the weekend, here is an extensive rundown of links and items related to Hubbard and his commitment to Iowa, plus a link to a post-commitment Q&A from Rob Howe.

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