Hubert A Natural Shot Blocker

Desmond Hubert is a raw prospect, there's no doubt about that.

He's not yet skilled enough to be a consistent scorer. He's not yet assertive enough on offense. And with his slight frame, he struggles to bang with bigger players.

But his ability to run the floor and block shots makes the 6-foot-9 post player a valuable recruit. For all that he's not, Hubert is still making waves with some of the biggest programs in the country for what he is.

"I think he's one of the best defensive players in the state," New Egypt coach Jay Corby said. "He blocks shots at a rate that can totally change a game and change the way an offense attempts to go to the basket at times. We're statistically one of the better defensive teams in our area because you can't get to the rim."

There are a lot of 6-9 post players in the Class of 2011 but few who make as much of an impact defensively as Hubert. His long arms and jumping ability get him in the right spots but Corby says it's his timing and attitude that makes him a special defender.

While some players thrive on offense and coast on defense, Hubert is the opposite. He realized early on he could make an impact defensively and that's where most of his focus lies.

"He has a natural instinct on when to go up and when to bait you a little bit," Corby said. "In our situation, we're usually using him as a help side defender to block shots. He's not a big guy who's tripping over his feet. He's a big guy who can move."

Playaz coach Jimmy Salmon, Hubert's summer coach, said the senior does better than some people think against stronger players. He's not going to be the kind of guy who muscles bigger players but his length gives everyone problems.

"He can definitely guard (a bigger) guy," Salmon said. "Nobody is going to have an easy day against him no matter the district level in high school."

Hubert's biggest problem, Salmon says, is he's not used to playing against top talent on a consistent basis. Playing for a small school like New Egypt, Hubert goes against shorter players most games. He isn't challenged like he would be at a bigger school and adjusting to college could be tough early on.

"When he does go to college and he gets coached every day at that level, I think he's going to be better," Salmon said. "Right now he can get away with things because he's playing against 6-foot-2 post guys. He's going to have to learn to be more effective against guys his own size when he goes to college."

Offensively Hubert does most of his damage two ways -- either with a jumper from the short corner or on dunks. Though he's relatively passive offensively, when Hubert gets within arm's length of the rim he attacks the basket hard.

"When he's with a point guard who can drop the ball off like that, he's good at sealing his man and finishing strong," Salmon said. "He tries to dunk everything. That's what I love about him."

A year ago, Hubert averaged 18 points per game for New Egypt. This season his average dipped to around 13 to 14 points but that's largely due to an improved team around him, according to his coach. Corby said Hubert's field goal percentage remained above 50 percent despite the decline in scoring.

But both Corby and Salmon believe the key for Hubert is unquestionably his strength. When he fills out, Hubert can be a contributor and even perhaps make a living playing basketball.

Until then, he's going to have to pick his spots. He'll face up occasionally and fill the lanes in transition but he's simply not going to be someone who backs down a defender and muscles his way to the basket.

"I think in college next year, because of his lack of strength, it could be an issue," Salmon said. "He's even discussed redshirting. I don't know if that's something that's still in the plan but at one point he was thinking about redshirting."

Fortunately, Salmon says Hubert is a smart kid with a good work ethic. While he has steps he needs to take to reach his potential, he thinks he'll make it. Salmon says he expects Hubert to be a contributor on offense by his junior year.

"He wants to get stronger. He sees it as a deficiency himself," Salmon said. "He's a great learner."

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