Last summer, Anthony Hubbard was tested daily. He’d go to the weight room with a teammate or two knowing that one of the exercises they’d do was the bench press. Universally, this workout is considered a sort of measuring stick of masculinity for most men.
Hubbard saw it that way, too.
He’d only bench 185 pounds, while his teammates exceeded the 200-mark. But he was always up for a challenge, enough to match the effort of his workout partner. He also had another reason to push himself: Turlock High boys basketball.
“We’re still underdogs,” Hubbard said, echoing a thought his teammates have. “We still have to prove ourselves to everyone.”
The Bulldogs’ season begins Saturday at 4 p.m. with a nonconference game at Modesto High, and Hubbard is already considered an important piece to the team. He’s the top returning scorer from last season’s state tournament squad, averaging 12.6 points per game to go along with 3.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.3 steals.
So it’s undeniable what kind of role he’ll play this season, since gone are 2009-10’s top contributors in Travis Souza and Eric Wetzel. But Bulldogs coach Doug Cornfoot is quick to dismiss the idea that this is Hubbard’s year because of one big reason: He doesn’t need Hubbard to score all the points.
There’s senior Ashton Richardson, a high-riser who almost scored in double digits last season.
There’s Alek Carlson, who played key minutes during last season’s run as a sophomore that resulted in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinal and CIF State Tournament appearances.
There’s Connor Pearson, who was able to slow down a usually dominant Dominic Romeo of Pitman High during last season’s crosstown rivalry game.
And then there are newcomers Matt Ruesga, Brent Backlund, Denny Serpa and DaShawn Holcombe and proven contributors Arturo Trujillo and Tyler Cook.
In short, Cornfoot, who’s in his fifth year as head coach, believes this is the most athletic squad he’s ever had.
“We don’t need him to score 20 points a game,” the Turlock coach added about Hubbard. “We don’t need Anthony to get caught up in points, but have a complete game.”
Hubbard isn’t worried about scoring, either.
“Not at all,” he said in response to a question about the pressure of being the team’s go-to scorer. “Everybody can score. Ashton can score. Alek Carlson can score. Our team is successful without me scoring.”
So that’s why Hubbard focused on other aspects of his game than scoring over the summer. His prime objective: Get bigger. He’s now walking about with a muscular 195-pound, 6-foot-1 body, thanks to working out once every weekday and twice on the weekends. He’s about 30 pounds heavier than his 2009-10 self.
He also worked on his dribbling skills, which will help him as he’ll carry the point guard position with Richardson, Trujillo and Carlson. But Hubbard knew he had to get stronger, something that will make him appear more attractive when college scouts come by to watch him in action.
“Once I get bigger, (Coach Cornfoot) said the doors would open up,” Hubbard said. “Not only can I use my speed, I can also use my muscles to get through.”
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