Making The Most of an Opportunity

Nov. 30, 2010

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Sometimes injuries create opportunities. Entering last Friday’s game against Southern Illinois Edwardsville — the first without starting guard Cully Payne — Iowa freshman Branden Stubbs knew he might be called into action.

Stubbs more than made up for his opportunity in his second career appearance as a Hawkeye. The Pleasant Hill, Iowa, native scored 12 points in nine minutes in the 111-50 victory over the Cougars. Stubbs went 3-for-3 from the field (2-for-2 from 3-point range) and 4-for-4 from the charity stripe. His long ball at the 7:11 mark in the second half accounted for his first career points.

“What can you say about Branden? Twelve points in nine minutes,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery, following the rout of SIUE. “He kept everything under control, and we didn’t lose focus defensively.”

Before joining the Hawkeyes as a walk-on, Stubbs starred at Des Moines Christian High School, where he played for his father, David Stubbs. The guard was named the 2010 Iowa Class 2A Player of the Year, while also being a four-time all-conference and three-time all-state selection.

“Right after I got hired, his name was brought to my attention by Sharm Scheuerman,” said McCaffery. “When Sharm calls you, you’re going to take that phone call seriously.

“We then did a little bit of research on Branden. His numbers were phenomenal, and we thought he was really impressive. I invited him down, along with his father, and said we’d love to have you be a Hawkeye, and he wanted to do it.”

During his career at Des Moines Christian, Stubbs scored more than 2,000 career points, finishing with 2,145 — the 20th most all-time in the state. He also had 717 assists during his four-year career, the second most all-time by an Iowa high school student-athlete.

“If you watch Branden play, he can shoot, he makes all his free throws and he can feed the post,” said McCaffery. “If you come up on him, he goes by you.

“He is without a doubt our smartest player in terms of knowing the offense, knowing what we’re trying to accomplish with whatever we call. To have somebody pick everything up that quickly says a lot about his basketball IQ.”

When asked what his father and former coach, David, would say about his breakout performance as a Hawkeye, Branden said with a laugh, “He would probably say good job, but don’t mishandle the basketball.”