Jack Hobbs admits he wasn't ready for college basketball when he graduated from South High a year ago. So he went to the Impact Basketball Academy in Las Vegas and came out a man.
Now the 6-foot-7 forward is headed to the University of Hartford, where he'll be one of a record 11 Alaskans expected to play NCAA Division I men's basketball in 2014-15.
Of those 11, six spent several months at a prep school between high school and college. Hobbs said that for him, prep school was a necessary detour.
"I wasn't big enough, I wasn't good enough," he said.
Hobbs, 19, was a third-team all-state selection as a senior at South. He said he improved every aspect of his game and became a Division I prospect while at the Las Vegas academy.
"I was training seven months in and out every day," he said. "I wouldn't be where I am without them.
"You were always working out, always learning something new and facing new competition. It was really good."
Hobbs thinks he found another good situation at Hartford, which went 17-16 last season for its second straight 17-win season. The Hawks were 17-14 the previous season, and the 34 wins over the two seasons are the most in back-to-back campaigns since Hartford became a Division I program in 1984-85.
"It was a perfect fit. It checked all the boxes," Hobbs said. "The coaching staff has been there for three years and they are looking to stay. The players, it's like a brotherhood. The way they play fits perfectly with the way I play.
"They wanted me and my interest was high with them. Everything worked out."
Hobbs, who can stretch the floor with his size and shooting, is a solid pick-and-roll, pick-and-pop type of player.
"If I have a little guy on me I will take him down low," he said. "They like my ability to shoot it, so they want me to play more of a wing. The way they run their offense, they play off each other."
Hartford's signing of Jack gives the Hobbs family two Division I players. Tommy Hobbs, Jack's older brother, just completed his sophomore season at New Orleans.
Tommy spent a year at LaJolla Prep in California between high school and college, another example of how time at a basketball academy can pay off.
It's not inexpensive route, however. According to the Impact Academy website, the cost of the seven- and nine-month programs for high school graduates range from $22,000 to $26,500.
"There are guys up here that can play at the next level," Hobbs said, "but it's hard to get recruited in Alaska if you stay here."
Van Williams is a former Daily News reporter who writes the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame blog.
Division I Alaskans
Eleven Alaskans are expected to play for NCAA Division I mens basketball teams in the 2014-15 season:
Jalil Abdul-Bassit (West), Oregon
Devon Bookert (West), Florida State
Connor Devine (Wasilla), South Dakota State
Ryden Hines (Dimond), Iona
Jack Hobbs (South), Hartford
Tommy Hobbs (South), New Orleans
Calvin Hoffman (Anchorage Christian), Liberty
Colter Lasher (Dimond), Houston Baptist
Eric Roberts (Eagle River), Creighton
Damon Sherman-Newsome (Bartlett), Colgate
Derrick Wilson (East), Marquette
By VAN WILLIAMS
Alaska Sports Hall of Fame