Anthony Hubbard’s decision to transfer away from Iowa before the school semester even begins and after the spring recruiting period in which he signed, stings…it stings quite a bit on a number of levels.
First, it’s a big shocker to everyone I know. I heard Tom Kakert of Rivals on Des Moines radio over the midday and he was talking with host Andy Garman about his expectations for Hubbard for Iowa this coming season. I had a conversation with an Iowa fan this morning who was asking me about Hubbard and what I thought he could do for Iowa. Hubbard was playing in the PTL just two nights ago and gave no indications that he was going to be leaving town in two days. Kevin Lehman, his coach in the Prime Time League, called into Brommelkamp & Balbinot in Cedar Rapids on Thursday and expressed his shock to this decision.
It’s a story that has shocked every Iowa fan and I am guessing everyone in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, too.
The first reaction some have is to spin…I have been guilty of that in the past, as it’s human nature (for most, save for the Eeyore’s in our lives)..spin it in a way that everything we had hoped this season could be could still turn out that way.
I just don’t see it.
Hubbard was going to be someone that challenged for double figures each night in scoring and maybe even rebounding. He was going to be a starter for this team and be arguably one of its best players. That is how he has been presented all spring and summer on the I-Club circuit by the Iowa coaches themselves. Factor in something Rob Howe tweeted about, which is that Iowa was in a great position to get Matt Glover before Hubbard told them he was coming to Iowa City…a double personnel whammy.
So this one hurts…this is not a program that can afford such a loss any time of the year, much less after they can’t do anything about it to add to the coming season’s roster.
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It also stings because Iowa went out of their way and took a chance on someone that most schools would not take a chance on; someone with a felony on their record, someone that served nearly four years in prison due to their role in an armed robbery, someone who is 26 years old.
There is a reason why most programs didn’t take a chance on Hubbard; they didn’t have to. Iowa felt like it had to, in order to get a player of his caliber late in the spring.
The reality is simple, stark and tough to swallow; Iowa’s basketball program is a bit desperate right now and they took a chance that Hubbard’s issues were behind him. By all accounts from those close to him, that is the case. However, there were plenty of skeptics among the Iowa fan base and the program took some hits after taking Hubbard’s verbal commitment. Fran McCaffery and Gary Barta were answering character related questions at every I-Club stop. They organized a one-time, get the sullied past questions out of the way presser in June, and took even more bullets for Hubbard.
They held up their end of the bargain after choosing to take this risk. While the risk didn’t blow up in their face in the form of recidivism, it has blown up in what it means on the court.
Hubbard showed in the PTL that he could handle the ball. He had more guard skills than I thought he would possess and he could have spelled Bryce Cartwright some at the point…not for long periods of time, but some.
Now, Devyn Marble may have to slide back over and spend some time at the point, which is not his ideal position and will take away from his development on the wing.
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Bryce Cartwright might be the most valuable player to any team in the Big Ten right now for what an injury could mean to his team.
Given Iowa’s weak out of conference schedule, they could still post 8 or 9 wins, but getting six, seven or eight in the Big Ten just got a lot less likely. This program desperately needs some good news and a good and competitive season. They need to finish above .500 to be in the hunt for some kind of post season.
I am still looking forward to basketball season, but I won’t lie and say this didn’t feel like a sucker punch to the gut. I am sure Hubbard’s ‘former’ teammates feel that way and I guarantee Fran McCaffery feels that way; he was recruiting in Chicago over the weekend, and not back on the home front convincing a player to stay which tells me he didn’t think he needed to do that.
This happened out of the blue and the fallout from situations like this tend to hurt the most.