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Hlas column: The odd, sudden departure of Hubbard from Hawkeyes' cupboard -- homesickness? Really?
ANTHONY HUBBARD TO TRANSFER
Junior college transfer to look at options closer to home
That was written atop a press release issued Thursday by the University of Iowa's sports information office. Forgive my skepticism, but it comes from a lifetime from being on the receiving end of a million press releases from organizations near and far.
That said, of course it could simply have been homesickness. Everyone's different, and a lot of people like to be close to home.
But you're 26 years old and you've moved from the hell of four years in prison to two junior colleges over a thousand miles apart to the golden opportunity of playing Big Ten basketball. If you have a nice season or two at Iowa, a program in which coach Fran McCaffery clearly had plans for you to be an integral figure on the team, you're poised to make a decent living playing pro ball somewhere in the world.
Yet, a month after you sat between Athletic Director Gary Barta and McCaffery at a press conference so all three could get things out in the open in one fell swoop, you suddenly take off? In mid-July, presumably not knowing where you're headed next?
“I truly appreciate the tremendous opportunity Coach McCaffery, the basketball staff and everyone at the University of Iowa provided me,” Hubbard was quoted in Iowa's press release. “The community and the school and the people were fantastic. However, at this time, I plan to work with my junior college coach and family to select another school perhaps closer to home.”
This “closer to home” thing is often used as a reason for a player transferring. It occasionally is a crock.
Justin Hamilton started 31 games at center for Iowa State in the 2009-2010 season. When he announced he was leaving ISU after that season, we were told he wished to play closer to his Utah home. He then transferred to Louisiana State.
Ah, but those press release quotes are always so clean and concise, aren't they? The best thing about them for the people involved is that they don't have to take follow-up questions.
It has zero relevance to this topic, but LeBron James is 26, too. He had no problem leaving his Ohio home for south Florida a summer ago.
Anyway, if this story simply turns out to be Hubbard really wanting to go back East and nothing more, it's not a big deal in the big picture.
Yes, this was a second-team National Junior College Athletic Association All-American who averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds as a 6-foot-4 (6-3?) guard. Yes, he certainly looked like a player in North Liberty's Prime Time League, averaging 23 points, 11 rebounds and 5.5 assists in six games.
Through the games of July 10, Hubbard had 15 more free-throw attempts than anyone else in the PTL. He also shot 56 percent from the foul line and 20 percent from 3-point distance.
Hubbard was the PTL's top curiosity piece this summer. He brought some fans back to the North Liberty Recreation Center who hadn't been very interested in summer ball the last few years. He was viewed by all as someone who was going to add something needed to McCaffery's player rotation.
So it's a genuine loss. But Hubbard is a 2-guard, and that's not a position in which Iowa lacks players. Matt Gatens, Eric May, Devyn Marble and freshman Josh Oglesby are all one end or both of a 2-guard/small-forward combination.
Now, were sophomore power forward Melsahn Basabe to issue a press release saying he's looking to play at a college closer to his Long Island home, Hawkeye basketball would need more renovating than Carver-Hawkeye Arena did.