116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
With Anthony Hubbard's departure on Thursday, Iowa basketball is right about where it left off in March.
Hubbard, a 6-foot-5 junior-college All-Amer ... (yeah, you all know his background and I'm done writing about it), bolted about a month after landing on campus. He was slated to compete for a starting wing/guard slot this fall. He would have brought a different skill set to the Hawkeyes because he can penetrate, handle the ball effectively and post up if necessary.
But there were underlying tensions with Hubbard and some of his teammates. Maybe it's best that he left now rather than go into the season when those issues are under a microscope. In college sports, chemistry ranks just slightly below experience and talent. Poor chemistry can cost teams games because it often leads to a lack of trust and selfish play.
Many of us in the media - myself included - just about anointed Hubbard as a starter shortly after he signed. During the summer Prime Time League, I saw that Hubbard was a good, tough player. But I also noticed the competition for the off-guard slots was going to be intense and not automatically handed to Hubbard. Junior Eric May and sophomore Devyn Marble have developed nicely since last season. May is a physically impressive athlete with the speed and strength to match Hubbard. Marble is the team's most improved player from a year ago, and it's not even close. I'm not ready to put him in his father's category just yet, but it might be tough for Coach Fran McCaffery to keep him off the court.
Iowa does have an influx of three freshmen who will make an impact this year. Aaron White, a 6-foot-8 forward, has been impressive with his on-court awareness and skill set in the PTL. Josh Oglesby, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard, possesses the outside range and decent ball skills to make him a solid contributor off the bench. Gabe Olaseni, a 6-foot-10 freshman post, can be effective as a shot-blocker, and he has enough athletic ability to get up and down the court. But Olaseni is extremely raw and not ready for serious playing time.
So, where does Hubbard's departure leave Iowa? The truth is 88 percent of the scoring from last year's team still returns. Outside of center Jarryd Cole, Iowa brings back its core. Losing Cole would hurt regardless of Hubbard's status. Cole was the team's steady captain who commanded respect by all. Seniors Andrew Brommer and Devon Archie can adequately replace Cole on the court - if they stay out of foul trouble - but neither possess Cole's leadership ability.
Iowa still has senior Bryce Cartwright at point guard and senior Matt Gatens at off-guard. Sophomore Melsahn Basabe is a budding star at power forward. Zach McCabe has bulked up by about 15 pounds and will contribute mightily at forward. Losing Hubbard hurts far more from a public relations standpoint than it does from an on-court perspective. His departure strips Iowa of its depth, which stings, but the Hawkeyes have the talent to improve without him. If Hubbard wasn't going to be a valuable teammate off the court, then it's best for himself - and Iowa - that he move on.