Hubalek brings international flair to ISU

Basketball has truly become an international sport and Jiri Hubalek is living proof of that.

The Prague, Czech Republic native came to the United States after high school with the intent of playing Division I basketball.


"I sent my basketball tape to some schools," he said. "I didn't pass my SATs, but my desire was to go from high school to a college and have four years of eligibility."


But Hubalek took a different path on his way to achieving his Division I dream.


"But because of my English I didn't pass my SATs and the only way was to go to a community college," Hubalek said.


Enter Coach Denny Aye at Marshalltown Community College.


Hubalek redshirted his first year at Marshalltown and had a solid season his second year, proving he's a good outside shooter who can score in the low post.


By averaging 12.4 points and 8.6 rebounds, Hubalek earned first-team all-Region XI honors, one of three freshmen on the team. He was second in the ICCAC in rebounds in fourth in blocked shots.


Hubalek said his relationship with Coach Aye at Marshalltown had an impact on his decision to choose Iowa State.


"I think Coach Aye in Marshalltown did a very good job," Hubalek said. "I think he was close to the coaching staff at Iowa State. What I see at practices here is that we did a lot of the same stuff; I think it will help me."


Also being so close to Ames, gave Hubalek the opportunity to experience Hilton Magic first hand.


"I thought Coach Morgan did a great job with the team for the past couple of years," he said. "A couple of the other reasons I choose Iowa State is because of Hilton Magic and Iowa State gets a lot of TV coverage."


Hubalek made it to the Missouri game as well as a couple others.


"It was big for me to see how the fans participate in the games," he said. "Everybody likes to play ball for the people and the people are just amazing here."


Shooting is one of Hubalek's strengths; he said that he's been working on every aspect of his game. He also said that he runs the floor well and can handle the ball. Hubalek plays a lot of four, but is getting a shot at the three as well.


"I have the desire to get the ball and the rebounds," he said.


Hubalek said he needs to improve his strength and continue to work on all aspects of his game to be a ‘big time player.'


As mentioned before Hubalek choose Iowa State because of the television exposure the Cyclones get, he wants his parents to have a chance to see him play back home in the Czech Republic.


"[I make it home] once a year, maximum," he said. "We will see what happens this summer, but maybe I will not be able to go home."


Hubalek said if all goes as planned his parents could partake in ‘March Madness.'


"Hopefully we will do well in the NCAA Tournament and they can come over," he said."


As for now Hubalek is enjoying every moment of his time in America.


"I love it here, it's completely different experience," he said. "Every day I experience something new. Europe and the United States are like different worlds, so I'm taking it as a huge life experience; I'm just learning."


Hubalek said there's also a difference on the court; basketball in Europe is much more aggressive because of the American influence on the game.


"More and more basketball players and coaches are coming from the United States to Europe," he said. "We're not that far [behind] as a couple years ago. Europe is getting closer and closer, but American basketball has more players with Olympic skills."


One of the reasons the European players are closing the gap is because of the concentration on the core parts of the game.


"I think like in Europe we work on fundamentals a lot more, shooting is the main part," he said. "As you can see in the NBA, the best shooters in the NBA are Dirk Nowitzki and Peja Stojakovic, so definitely shooting is a key in Europe."


Perhaps in the years to come Hubalek will get a chance to play professional basketball a little closer to home.


"I would say we could see the NBA expanding to Europe in a couple years," he said. "It's still [that] we don't have enough money in many countries to be able to expand in five years, but in 10 years it could be possible. In counties like France, Spain, Greece, China and Russia, it's business as usual.


"Basketball is getting to the level of soccer and ice hockey; those are probably the biggest sports in Europe."



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