A few moments after the Tennessee Volunteers basketball team concluded their open practice Saturday afternoon, five-star guard Robert Hubbs strode onto the court with a basketball in his hands.
Standing about four steps beyond the 3-point arc, the 6-foot-5, 180-pound silky-smooth shooter let four shots fly -- just clowning around while the current Vols mingled off court side.
Swish. Swish. Swish. Swish.
His first four attempts hit nothing but the bottom of the net. I looked over at my dad and said, "Wow. I could get used to seeing that the next few years."
It appears we'll get that opportunity.
Hubbs -- a five-star prospect on all three of the top recruiting services -- chose the Vols on Monday over offers from Kentucky, Duke, Memphis, Kansas, UCLA, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Auburn, Missouri and virtually everybody else. The star from tiny rural Dyer County High School in West Tennessee is an exceptional athlete and shooter who everyone wanted. 247 Sports and Rivals each have Hubbs as the 12th-ranked overall player in the nation. Scout.com believes he's the third-ranked overall player, and ESPN ranks him as a four-star player and No. 35 prospect in the country. He is a perfect blend of size, scoring ability and athleticism and would be an instant-impact player no matter where he landed.
Hubbs is the second five-star prospect UT coach Cuonzo Martin has recruited to Knoxville in the past 10 months, joining Memphis standout Jarnell Stokes, who committed to the Vols last December and enjoyed an immediate impact midseason. Hubbs will do the same once he arrives on campus next year. Though he is from a tiny town, he blew up in AAU circuit, becoming a member of the 2012 USA Basketball Men's Developmental National Team and a nationally known name in the world of basketball recruiting. Hubbs is praised for his work ethic and versatility on the court, and he's exactly the kind of talented hard work Martin wants to bring into this program.
This commitment goes a long way in cementing Martin's value as a recruiter. The commitment of Stokes -- who had little interest in the Vols after the Bruce Pearl fiasco -- was the first sign that UT has an elite coach who can convince the top players in the country to come to Knoxville. Hubbs is Example No. 2. He literally could have gone anywhere he wanted in the country. He chose to stay home.
Hubbs joins three-star point guard Travon Landry, a terrific true ball distributor and defender who will be playing with the nation's top program at Huntington Prep this year. His pledge could also open the floodgates for UT to have its best recruiting class ever. The Vols not only stand strong with three-star power forward A.J. Davis [the son of former NBA standout Antonio Davis] but they also have a couple other big fish on the line.
John Williams III -- who is down to UT, Georgetown and Michigan State -- was also on campus along with Hubbs on Saturday and seemed to be having a blast. Then, there's Austin Nichols, another Memphis standout who has developed a strong bond with Martin and Stokes. Nichols also has a Duke offer, and it is believed he is high on the Blue Devils, Vanderbilt and the Vols. But Nichols and Hubbs are very good friends and AAU teammates, so that may be another good selling point for the Vols.
Regardless of who else they get, UT dropped into Newbern and pulled out a potential major star. Martin got in on him very early and made him a priority. He never turned down the pressure on him, and even when Hubbs blew up on the AAU circuit, he kept the Vols high on his list. Hubbs' father said the biggest factor in his decision to commit to UT was Martin, plain and simple. With Tennessee desperately needing a star scorer from the perimeter, they basically went out and got the best one in the country right in their own backyard.
Many outlets believe he's a lock to be a McDonald's All-American and is perhaps one of the top three high school scorers in the country.
Welcome to Big Orange Country, Mr. Hubbs!