June 23, 2011
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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 — Adam Haluska was nervous on June 28, 2007, the day he was selected by the New Orleans Hornets with the 43rd pick of the NBA Draft.
Haluska, who is seventh on the University of Iowa’s all-time men’s basketball scoring chart with 1,578 points, is the last Hawkeye to be chosen in the NBA Draft. The 2011 draft is tonight in Newark, N.J. (6 p.m. CT), with 60 players selected in two rounds.
“I grew up a huge Hawkeye fan, and it seemed that every other year we had a guy end up in the NBA,” Haluska said. “It goes to show there are so many great players, not only in the country, but internationally as well. It’s tough to get selected; I feel fortunate. The stars kind of lined up. I played well at the right time, and it worked out for me in the end.”
Haluska began his career at Iowa State before transferring to Iowa and playing for the Hawkeyes from 2005-07. As a senior he made 90 3-point field goals and averaged 20.5 points per game. Haluska was team MVP, first team all-Big Ten and Academic All-American of the Year.
For him, preparing for the draft was a process. With his eligibility exhausted, Haluska hired an agent, trained in Los Angeles, and in early June of 2007, he went on a whirlwind tour working out for any team that sent an invitation.
“It boiled down to a handful of teams that would actually take me in the draft,” Haluska said. “I knew my real chances were at the 43rd pick (New Orleans) and Chicago at 51. I was nervous that day because everything I worked for depended on what decision those teams made.”
Haluska worked out in the morning of the draft, then went to his in-laws’ home in Carroll, Iowa, to grill. When the 35th pick was on the clock, Haluska went inside to monitor activity on the television.
“(Former UI assistant) coach (Craig) Neal called me around the 41st or 42nd pick and congratulated me,” Haluska said. “He had some inside information and said I was going to go 43rd to New Orleans. I was excited. New Orleans had a strong history that if they took someone with the pick they were pretty serious.”
“I grew up a huge Hawkeye fan, and it seemed that every other year we had a guy end up in the NBA. It goes to show there are so many great players, not only in the country, but internationally as well. It’s tough to get selected; I feel fortunate. The stars kind of lined up. I played well at the right time, and it worked out for me in the end.”
There are no guaranteed contracts for second-round picks, but Haluska knew the Hornets were looking for a shooting guard to be an `on-the-bench guy’ or a `practice guy.’
“I had a good shot of making the team,” he said.
A week or two later, Haluska attended Summer League in Las Vegas, followed by a couple weeks of practice. He signed a one-year contract in the summer, taking pressure off once training camp began.
“I could relax and play like I’m supposed to play and not try to overly impress,” he said. “I wouldn’t be the biggest guy, the fastest guy, the strongest guy or the most athletic guy. I was going to play hard every possession, try to pick up things as quickly as possible and be one of those guys who helps the team in practice.”
The first month went well for Haluska, who averaged 8.5 points in four preseason games. Then, the player known for his consecutive game injury-free streak, suddenly became injury-plagued. Over the next year and a half, Haluska suffered injuries to an ankle and right foot and he had two sports hernias repaired.
On Feb. 21, 2008, he was packaged in a trade with Bobby Jackson and Marcus Vinicius that sent Haluska to Houston. The Rockets waived him.
His wife, Kendra, was pregnant with their first child, so instead of playing in Europe, Haluska finished the final four weeks of the 2008 D-League season with the Iowa Energy. He played for Hapoel Jerusalem in 2008-09.
After a brief stint with Principal Financial Group, Haluska’s health improved and he gave basketball another shot by attending camp with the Dallas Mavericks last fall. He played three exhibition games.
“It wasn’t going to be a chance for me to make the team because they had too many guaranteed contracts,” Haluska said. “I was playing well and had a few opportunities to head back overseas and it came down to a family decision to give basketball up and to stay put and look at starting a career.”
Adam, Kendra and their three-year-old daughter Jerzey, live in Solon. In January, Haluska accepted a job with Stryker Orthopaedics, working with doctors that use Stryker knees, hips and other joints as implants.
“I was always interested in anatomy and I even thought about going into pre-med when I was in college,” Haluska said. “You’re in the operating room and it feels like you’re part of their team working toward the same goal of trying to do what’s right for the patient and the surgeon.”
A highlight for Haluska at the UI was the 2005-06 season when the Hawkeyes went 25-9 and won the Big Ten Tournament with victories against Minnesota, Michigan State and Ohio State. They were upset by Northwestern State, 64-63, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
“I thought we could have made a legitimate shot at Elite Eight or Final Four that year, we were playing that well,” Haluska said. “It goes to show it can really happen to anybody on any given night if a team comes ready to play, you can never take anything for granted.”
Haluska’s brother, Blake, is a redshirt wide receiver on the Hawkeye football team.
“There’s nothing more exciting than Iowa athletics, I don’t care if it’s football or basketball,” Haluska said. “I’ve always been a huge Iowa football fan and it was a pretty exciting moment for us to watch him run out on the field last year.”
Former University of Iowa forward Reggie Evans signed as a free agent in 2002 and has played for four NBA teams. He completed his 10th season in the league in April, seeing action in 30 games for Toronto. Evans averages 6.9 rebounds and 4.3 points in 572 NBA games.