June 15, 2011
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Margaret McCaffery gets credit with this assist. After all, it was her dessert that helped lure Anthony Hubbard to the University of Iowa.
“His wife makes this apple dessert,” said Hubbard. “On all my other visits, I didn’t get any desserts. She made this apple dessert, and I was like `you know what?’ I can’t turn down apple desserts, so I chose Iowa.”
Hubbard wouldn’t have had the chance to sample Margaret’s apple dessert if it weren’t for the open-mindedness of Director of Athletics Gary Barta and head coach Fran McCaffery. After all, Hubbard is a 26-year old, who spent time in prison for a life-changing mistake he made as a teenager.
When McCaffery first heard of Hubbard, he knew he was a good player, but he didn’t know anything about his background.
“I am a realist, and I know what the climate is,” said McCaffery. “That’s why right off the bat, I went to Gary. The important thing for Gary was to proceed, but proceed with caution… talk to everyone.”
McCaffery did his homework on Hubbard on the recruiting trail, talking to his past head coaches, assistant coaches, athletic directors… anyone he could talk with.
“We talked to the AD, people who work there… he’s beloved in Frederick,” said McCaffery. “He’s a leader on the team; he’s someone who everyone likes.
“He described in detail what he did, what transpired since then. It was genuine and was probably a little bit different than what I was expecting to hear. He didn’t dismiss it… he still felt bad he was involved, but was adamant saying the only thing I can change is what happens from this point forward.”
“Eight years had passed… a lot had happened in Anthony’s life and watching what he had done in that period of time, I became more and more impressed as the process went along,” said Barta. “I have never seen him play basketball, but that’s not what I was focused on.
“Obviously he must have been a talented basketball player, but I was focused on what he was trying to do in his life and what he had done in the last eight years, and it was clear to me that he had already turned a page and he was ready to turn another one.”
Hubbard knows that some fans will look at him and his past as a red flag. His message to those fans and the naysayers is simple.
“Get the opportunity to know me as a person,” he said. “If a person meets me and they don’t like me in any type of way or they have some reservations about me then that’s a personal problem. Not to sound cocky or arrogant in any type of way, but I feel like I’m a good person, I’ve grown from my past, I’m a good person and I’m ready to move on.”
Opposing fans might not be so kind to the future Hawkeye, and Hubbard knows that opposing things are going to be said on any given night.
“I live with Melsahn (Basabe) and we woke up and I said my foot is hurting,” said Hubbard. “He said, `man you’re 30 years old… you’re getting old.’ I laughed it off. I know I am going to get it from my teammates, so I don’t think it gets any worse than getting it from them.
“There are going to be things that are going to be said. If that’s the worse that I have to go through, then so be it. It’s not going to affect me.”
Eight years have passed since Hubbard made a mistake that will live with him forever, but he’s ready to move on with his life and career with the Hawkeyes.
“I feel blessed to be in a situation like this,” said Hubbard. “I was awarded the opportunity to play Division I basketball and it is a blessing.”
Hawkeye fans can catch Hubbard in action on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. in North Liberty in Prime Time League action.