Hawks for Hubbard

In decision made in front of friends and family in his native Virgina on Saturday, junior college wing Anthony Hubbard picked Iowa ahead of Big Ten counterpart Nebraska.

Hawkeye basketball fans exhale. Coach Fran McCaffery has a recruit committed in the late signing period according to multiple internet sources.

Frederick Community College win Anthony Hubbard announced Saturday that he will be joining the Iowa team for the 2011-12 season. He chose the Hawkeyes ahead of Big Ten foe Nebraska.

The 6-foot-5, 215-pound wing averaged about 20 points and 10 rebounds for Frederick last winter. He played his first season at Odessa (TX) Junior College and will have three years to play two at Iowa.

Hubbard recently turned 26. The Virginia native spent almost four years in prison after a felony robbery conviction when he was 18.

Hawkeye Insider expects to speak with Hubbard about his commitment and will update this story when that happens.

To listen to Hubbard talking about his decision and more, click on this LINK


What was the announcement like, the whole scene down there for those of us who couldn't be there?

Anthony Hubbard: It was incredible. People came out that I hadn't seen in a long time. There was just a tremendous amount of love that was in the atmosphere. People were definitely happy for me. It was a great day for me. It's my (deceased) brother's birthday, so it really couldn't have gotten much better than today. Today was better than my birthday.

Were you nervous or pretty much at peace with the decision and calm?

AH: I was never nervous. Emotional? Yes. I broke down. I tried not to be emotional but I broke down. I couldn't control it.

Is that because of what you've been through and where you're at in this journey?Did it all come to a head when you made that announcement?

AH: It did. It really did. I thought I was going to OK.

How did your mom do?

AH: She was emotional. She did OK. She did better than I thought.

What did it come down to for you, Anthony? I know you talked to me about being able to flip a coin if it was only about athletics and academics. Was it the relationship you built with the Iowa coaches and players?

AH: It was. It was the relationship and also the fans, man. The fans in Iowa are crazy. They really love the Hawkeyes. Everywhere, it's "Go Hawkeyes" you know, "Go Hawks." For example, there was a guy there today that had on an Iowa short and an Iowa hat. He was just sitting up there waiting for the announcement. Afterwards, he came down and spoke with me. He said, "I'm so happy that you chose Iowa." That's a lot of love.

Did you call Coach Fran already?

Yeah, I called him.

What was his reaction? What did he say to you?

AH: He was happy. He said I made his day.

What are his plans for you, Anthony? What does he expect from you when you get to Iowa?

AH: He expects me to come there and be a player. There's nothing set in stone or what position I'll play. But I think I can be effective in a lot of different ways. I think he plans to use me in a lot of different ways from some conversations that we've had.

What have you and he talked about in terms of your past? I would imagine he's been supportive of you having turned things around in your life. That had to have played into this decision.

AH: Oh man, it has. He's been supportive since Day 1. He came to see me play. I didn't have a horrible game, but I didn't have the best game of my life, either. He was still there from Day 1. It's all about comfortability here. He really showed me that he wanted me.

Both schools really showed me that they wanted me in their programs. But Coach McCaffery…what really kind of showed me was that Coach McCaffery left from Florida with his kids and his family to pay a visit to me and my mom.

His family is important to him and I know his family is important to him. I would never asked for him to do something like that. His son's birthday was the next day. It was his family time and he came down and visited with me and my mom. Stuff like that is priceless. He definitely showed that he wanted me to be a Hawkeye. And at the end of the day, I wanted to be a Hawkeye.

When did you decide on Iowa? When did you know?

AH: Truthfully, I felt this way since my visit. I felt that way about the school since my visit.

Did they set the bar and no one else reached that?

AH: Nobody else really reached that. Nebraska did. I can say that Nebraska. I can say that Nebraska really did kind of meet the bar. They were incredible. That just made my decision that much more difficult to make.

You and I have talked about your past. When you get to a Big Ten school, it's going to be more magnified when you go to opposing arenas, if you reach the heights you want to reach. You're going to get more attention. This story is going to be out there more. One, are you prepared for that, and two, are you prepared for that?

AH: I'll just handle it the way I have been handling it. I understand that it's my past. It's going to be a part of my story; part of my life for the rest of my life.

Initially, when I started talking about my past, last year, there wasn't much attention. I was at a junior college and I had another year. This year it kind of came to a head and I was kind of uncomfortable about the situation because I wanted people to judge me on me, on who I am today.

But I realize that people are going to be judgmental, anyway. Regardless of what you've done, people have their free will to have their opinion. I realize that it's something I can't control.

I tell my story in hopes that someone will learn from my story and not go through the same things I've been through to get there I'm at and understand that there's a vaster way and an easier way to do things. Also, for the people that don't have hope, maybe this will actually give them hope. There was a time in my life when I didn't really have a lot of hope. Basketball gave me hope.

What's your plan on getting to Iowa and going forward here?

AH: I'm trying to get there as soon as possible so I can start working out with the team and the guys. I don't know as far as a date or anything.

How does a 26-year-old man relate to 18-, 19-, 20-year old guys as his teammates? How do you think that will go?

AH: (Laughs) Well, I'm not 20 years their senior. I'm not too far separated from a lot of the players on the team. How can I relate to them? I've been 18 before. I've been through some of the things that they're going through. It's relationships. It's basketball. It's struggling in the classroom and not wanting to put in as much work studying as you do as you do on the basketball court. I've been through the whole kit and caboodle when when it comes to that. I think me being older would help me better in relating with the guys.

So you look at it that you can help with life experiences?

AH: I do. And I don't look at it like going in and trying to change people's lives. I think I can help the guys in terms of making the right decisions and choices in life. That's what it's about. I'm all about team unity. This team seems like it has a lot of unity. When they beat Purdue, they were in (the locker room celebrating). Usually you only see unity when guys win. I didn't really judge it on that. I watched how they interacted off the court. It was a good vibe and I'm going to enjoy being a part of that. I'm definitely going to enjoy being a part of that.

You have two years. You don't really have time for this thing to rebuild over time. You want to win now. From your vantage point, is that a possibility?

AH: Yes. Most definitely. With Basabe and Bryce Cartwright, we have some pieces. We've got some pieces there that are in place. With me coming to the team, I think that I can really help.

We and Basabe are going to work a lot. I'm going to get the beast out of him. He's already a beast. He doesn't need too much pushing. I'm going to get you the ball. I'm going to feed you. Just fight with me, man.

You're not a true point guard but they lost a point guard in Cully Payne. Do you feel like you can spell Bryce at the point if need be?

AH: Yeah, man. I actually love playing the point guard. I can come in and give Bryce some minutes off and really run the team. I think I'm a leader naturally.

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