By Robert Wilson
MADISON — Ole Miss men’s basketball coach Kermit Davis paid off for the second time in three years.
Madison-Ridgeland Academy lead point guard Josh Hubbard — ranked No. 1 overall in Mississippi and No. 69 overall nationwide and No. 17 point guard nationwide on ESPN’s 2023 Top 100 — announced Thursday afternoon he was going to play for Ole Miss next season.
Two years ago, Callaway High point guard Daeshun Ruffin — then Mississippi’s No. 1 player — signed with Ole Miss and Davis, who hails from Mississippi, played at Mississippi State and recruited the Mississippi for several decades as a college principal and assistant. coach. Davis then knew Callaway coach David Sanders, who played at Provine High and Ole Miss.
Hubbard’s coach, Richard Duease, has known Davis for many years, back when Davis’ father, Kermit Sr., coached men’s basketball at MSU and Duease took his high school teams to camps at MSU.
The 5-foot-11 Hubbard — the 2022 PriorityOne Bank Metro Jackson Boys Basketball Player of the Year — chose Ole Miss over Mississippi State, Seton Hall, Southern Cal, Houston and Xavier.
Hubbard made official visits to Ole Miss, MSU, and Seton Hall and an unofficial visit to Houston.
Additionally, Hubbard has Division I offers from Southern Miss, Jackson State, Mississippi Valley State, LSU, Georgetown, Kansas State and New Orleans.
“I want to thank God for giving me the abilities to play the sport I love,” Hubbard said during the announcement made at MRA gymnasium in front of several hundred students, families and fans and broadcast live on the Internet at the MRA school. “I want to thank my beautiful family for supporting me and making this dream come true since I was little. I want to thank two right behind me, my parents (dad, Jason, and mom, Betty) who are been there since day 1. They raised me well and kept me in a straight line. Two important coaches in my life are Coach Duease and Coach (Former Middle School and High School Assistant MRA) (Mark Alexander). Coach Alexander (now in his first year as a women’s basketball coach at Hartfield Academy) got me from seventh grade to JV (junior college) Coach Duease raised me from eighth grade to high school. It shows that they saw something in me that I didn’t even see myself. Since ninth grade, my AAU team, Team Thad (from Memphis) has been a big part of my career, playing on the biggest platform in the country, helped me mentally and physically.
And then there’s Davis and Ole Miss.
“Ole Miss is a great program with new coaches on staff,” Hubbard said. “Coach Davis not only has big future plans with me, but also the team. It was very important to be close to home. They have high expectations for this year and next.
Duease — the active national leader in men’s basketball wins and Mississippi’s all-time leader in wins (boys and girls) — is glad Hubbard got the decision behind him.
“Josh spent many years preparing his game for this moment and it wasn’t that he just had natural talent. He worked it. He did what it took to get there,” said said Duease, “He gave up a promising football career. I think he was a Power 5 football player, but he loved basketball. He had several good choices to choose from. Kermit is a great friend of mine and Josh will have a wonderful time there, I’m proud for him and I’m ready to start this year.
Hubbard was impressive at a tournament in Orlando this summer where college coaches from across the country were there to observe some of the best high school players in the country.
Hubbard did well against the nation’s highest-rated player — 6-1 DJ Wagner of Camden, NJ, High and grandson of former NBA player and former Louisville All-American Milt Wagner and son of former NBA player and former All-American in Memphis Dajuan Wagner. Wagner scored 28 points in 32 minutes while Hubbard had 20 points in 25 minutes. Hubbard was 8 of 10 from the field and 4 of 6 from 3-point range.
Hubbard also beat Edgerrin “Bronny” James, son of NBA star LeBron James, 6-1 15 points to 11 points in the Orlando tournament. James is ranked 56th player overall and 14th point guard in the 2023 ESPN Top 100.
Hubbard averaged 17.2 points in 22.7 minutes over four tournament games. He shot 53.4% from the field (23 of 43), 52.3% from 3 points (11 of 21) and 80% from the free throw line (12 of 15).
Hubbard averaged 28.8 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals and led MRA to a 33-7 record, a second-place finish BUT 6A and an overall semifinal finish last season. He broke a 42-year-old record when he became the MAIS career leading scorer, finishing the season with 3,233 career points.
Hubbard has scored in double figures in 70 consecutive games since the start of his second season (he scored 7 points against Kirk Academy despite playing only one quarter).
He scored a season-high 42 points and scored his team’s first 20 points against Adams County Christian School last season. Hubbard scored a season-high 40 points, including eight 3-pointers, against Gulliver Prep, Fla., at the Junior Orange Bowl Classic in Miami over the Christmas break. He made 16 of 24 shots from the field, 8 of 13 from 3-pointers.
Hubbard was named tournament MVP and averaged 35 points and led MRA to three wins and the championship.
Hubbard, who has drawn comparisons to NBA stars Monta Ellis and Mississippi’s Devin Booker by opposing coaches, scored a career-high 46 points against MHSAA Class 6A Gulfport as a rookie when he made nine 3-pointers , including two in the last 17 seconds. to win the game.
Hubbard, who started since eighth grade, became the BUT’s all-time career leading scorer on Feb. 23 when he passed Ken Coghlan, who scored 3,168 points from 1977-1980 at East Rankin Academy. .
If Hubbard keeps up the pace next season, he could become Mississippi’s all-time leading scorer.
Robert Woodard holds the record with 4,274 points from 1982 to 1986 at Houlka High. Monta Ellis is second with 4,167 from 2001 to 2005 at Lanier High.
Hubbard has increased his scoring average each season, 15.3 points as an eighth grader, 18.2 as a freshman, 24.3 as a sophomore and 28.8 as a junior this season. He made 108 3-pointers this season and 332 for his career.
Duease set up a tough non-conference schedule for Hubbard’s senior season. MRA opens with October 29 against MHSAA Class 6A Meridian. The Patriots also play at MHSAA Class 6A schools Starkville (in the New Hope Tournament), Tupelo (in the Rumble in the South at Mississippi College in Clinton), Gulfport and Biloxi (regular season games), Bartlett Tenn. (at the Corinth tournament) and Memphis East (at MC) and compete in the Bristol, Tennessee tournament, one of the top tournaments in the country.