NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It is no secret that Robert Hubbs III hasn't lived up to the expectations the highly coveted recruit had coming out of high school. Four years later, the former Scout five-star prospect candidly tells what significant changes have been made to assure his career finishes with a bang.
"I just didn't put the time in," Hubbs said SEC Media Day at Bridgestone Arena of his junior season.
Hubbs had a solid finish to his sophomore year under then-Tennessee coach Donnie Tyndall and looked to keep that momentum going under Rick Barnes in the 2015-16 season. Those plans did not come to fruition as Hubbs suffered through a long season where he stayed in Barnes' doghouse much of the year.
Hubbs saw his game go from being a perimeter threat as a sophomore where he shot a respectable 31 of 93, to falling from 33 percent beyond the 3-point arc to 24 percent with only 46 attempts.
The Dyer County (Tenn.) High School product missed a period of time his junior year due to injury and many thought that was behind the decline. However, Hubbs was not in an excuse-making mood Wednesday: "It was not the injury, it was just about not being in the gym."
Barnes openly challenged Hubbs and Hubbs admits that the two had a "love-hate relationship." Hubbs says Barnes told him point blank, "You are either going to change or you are not."
So has Hubbs changed? It sounds like the 6-foot-5, 207-pounder has.
"I am ready, and I am excited," he said. "I have changed my ways. I am doing everything I can and being in the gym. I do believe I have made a 360-degree change. All the credit goes to (Barnes). I love him, I thank God for him and I really believe that God put him in his position at Tennessee to help me and others. It is a different me and I have to lead this team."
Hubbs has been frantically catching up for lost time in Pratt Pavilion with a daily regiment of having to make 350 NBA distance 3-pointers in 40 minutes. Hubbs smiles when talking about the grind, which is another sign he is embracing his newfound work ethic.
Hubbs must take ownership of being a veteran leader on a youthful team.
"I feel old. They listen and the pressure is on me to show them (newcomers) the way," he said.
After he's done on Rocky Top, Hubbs hopes to play professionally. But, he wants to do some dancin' first.
"Each night I think and pray about the NBA," he said. "I have to lead this team deep into March as that is the first step in that happening."
The senior has been through so much over the course of his four years on the Hill and he said the coaching changes "felt like it wasn't real." Finally having a coach in place for back-to-back years is a comfort level Hubbs hasn't experienced.
"It feels good knowing what to expect. The first year for coaches are usually a struggle."
Through all the changes and tough times Hubbs says, "I stayed with my university, and I stayed loyal."
Tennessee fans are excited to hear that finally it seems their Volunteer is realizing that his talent is just too special to not get in the gym and get the most out of it.