One of the things you do in preparing for July is create a hit list of players you must see for the first time. There’s always that straggler you haven’t crossed paths with and need to evaluate. I recall looking under rocks for Otto Porter and didn’t run into him until there were only weeks remaining in his senior year.
This time around, shooting guard Robert Hubbs (Newbern, Tenn./Dyer County) has proven the most elusive player. Seen him on tape, listened to our staffers break him down but have yet to watch him live. That changes in July when our paths cross in multiple cities (fingers crossed).
Hubbs isn’t Otto Porter and they don’t even play the same position. In fact, there are a slew of scouts who have seen Hubbs several times. The only perspective I’m coming at this from is mine and like Porter, he evaded me. Also like Porter, Hubbs comes from a town that isn’t a hub of activity.
“I’m from a small town and not many people get a chance to see me,” Hubbs said. “It’s not very big. The population is about 4,000 people. I know just about everybody.”
Hubbs will one day find himself on a college campus where the enrollment could be 10 times the population of his hometown. The senior said it wouldn’t matter; he’s ready for that next phase.
Last week, Hubbs tried out for one of USA Basketball’s teams. He got cut. Getting snipped is no big shocker. Not only did Hubbs not know most of the guys at camp, they had no clue he was and I’m guessing the USA hoops dossier on him was more of a brief than a book.
“The only person I knew was Johnathan Williams III because he was from Memphis,” Hubbs said. “I was just in there trying to get to know the guys a little bit.”
We probably haven’t heard the last of Hubbs and a USA team and the next time around, the small-town kid will have a better knowledge of the situation and the altitude surrounding Colorado Springs. Regardless, Jabari Parker (Chicago/Simeon) caught Hubbs’ eye. “I didn’t know many of their names. [Parker] impressed me a lot.”
Hubbs strikes me as a competitive kid, a workingman’s player with a strong feel and knowledge of the game. He once hung 42 on a kid in Tennessee and if you get him talking about pasting an opponent, the excitement in his voice is noticeable.
“I really like to attack people a lot, go right at them full speed and try to make that game miserable for them,” Hubbs said. “[When you own someone] you can see the other players get frustrated, coach is trying to change the defense to stop me.”
This summer, Hubbs expects to see Duke, Missouri and Tennessee a lot. Though a Tennessean, Missouri is the school geographically closest to his home but it’s still five-and-a-half hours from the doorstep to campus. “Staying home” doesn’t have a deep meaning under these circumstances.
Hubbs visited Auburn, Mississippi State, Missouri, Memphis and Vanderbilt. In time he’ll see more. Next month, colleges will be watching him. He’ll do a little scanning of the gym to see who’s there, and come this fall this process will shake itself out.