Kurt Looby: A Diamond in the Rough?

The Iowa Hawkeyes signed two players in the class of 2004-2005. Tony Freeman is a gutty and competitive guard from Chiacgo. His father played with Iowa Head Coach Steve Alford at Indiana. He is somewhat of a known commodity, as several high major programs in the Midwest were interested in him. Iowa's other recruit in the class, Kurt Looby (#5 in photo), is somewhat less heralded. Iowa Associate Head Coach Craig Neal feels that the Hawkeyes might have landed a steal.

Looby is a 6-10, 210-pound forward from Tyler (TX) Community College and is a native of St. John's, Antigua. Alford compares him to current Hawkeye Erek Hansen.

"Kurt is similar to Erek in that he adds size in a very athletic body," said Alford recently. "He's a true shot blocker and runs the floor well. He comes from a very good junior college program and has the potential to be an outstanding college player as he develops."

Looby has played organized basketball for just two years, with this year being his second. He moved into the starting line-up at Tyler late in his freshman season. Looby is coached at Tyler by Mike Marques, who formerly coached at both Marshalltown Community College and Indian Hills Community College in Iowa. Marques was the junior college coach of former Hawkeye players Jacob Jaacks, Jason Price and Chauncey Leslie.

New Iowa Associate Head Coach Craig Neal spent nearly 10 years in the NBA, and part of his duties were in the scouting department for the Toronto Raptors.

Neal is high on Looby and brings out a name from college basketball past when describing the newest Iowa Hawkeye.

"I think he is a young, athletic player similar to John Salley, a player I played with at Georgia Tech." Neal said. Neal played for Georgia Tech back in the mid to late 1980's.

"John couldn't score in a gym by himself when I first got to Georgia Tech, but he could run, jump, he had great hands and he could finish above the rim. He used to block a lot of shots, and I think that Kurt has those traits."

"You can't teach that. You can't teach the footwork that he has; it's just a natural god-given ability. This will be just his second year of organized basketball, but he is one of those kids that is like some clay that you can mold into a great piece. He is such a great kid and he wants to do so well, and he works hard and he is a big time sponge, I think he will be a major part of our program, just because he wants to be good and be a part of a team."

Neal admits that Looby is a work in progress, but he likes the foundation that Looby will bring with him when he comes to Iowa next season.

We were fortunate in that there were a lot of schools after him, and a lot of them were getting on him right before the signing day, but it's too late. We were fortunate enough that we got him turned onto our program, and our coaches did a great job. Hopefully we will help him develop into a great big man."

Looby will have three years to play two starting next fall. All of Iowa's current recruited scholarship players will have eligibility remaining next year, including centers Erek Hansen and Seth Gorney, along with forwards Greg Brunner, Doug Thomas and Alex Thompson.

Such depth might give Iowa the luxury of recruiting Looby next year; or at least, they will have that option should they feel that is the best route to take.

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