Anna Hubbell went off to college last year eager for new experiences.
The one she got wasn’t what she had in mind.
After a healthy and productive career at Centaurus, Hubbell was beginning to crack the playing rotation as a freshman at the University of Colorado — Colorado Springs. Seven games in, her streak of injury invincibility ended.
In only her seventh game with the Mountain Lions, she endured a season-ending ACL tear to her left knee against Metro State.
“I was going up for a layup, and when I jumped in the air I got sandwiched between two girls,” Hubbell said. “I came down on it wrong and it just popped.”
Hubbell was just beyond the threshold of being able to take a redshirt, so that was her freshman season. She scored eight points in the seven games, in which she averaged 7.7 minutes a contest.
The one-year mark of the injury will be Dec. 13, so Hubbell isn’t yet 100 percent recuperated. She is healthy enough to be in uniform and travel with the team, but not yet ready for big minutes. Through the Mountain Lions’ first four games, she had only received a two brief cameos.
“I’m still doing rehab now,” she said. “After my surgery, I’ve been doing rehab for the last 11 months. I’m practicing now and I’m pretty close to 100 percent. Probably a few more weeks. I’m not pushing it that hard because the season is long.”
UCCS began the season ranked No. 8 in Division II. The Mountain Lions (5-1) slipped to No. 22 after a loss at California Baptist but remain the only Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference team in the poll.
And Hubbell is still a part of their plans.
“She came in here with high expectations for her and there still are,” UCCS first-year coach Shawn Nelson said. “It’s just a matter of mentally trying to overcome the injury. Over the last two weeks I’ve noticed a lot of progress with her, and I think it’s only a matter of time until she’s ready to really step in and play big minutes.”
Hubbell was a key piece to Centaurus’ back-to-back appearances in the 4A quarterfinals in 2012 and ’13, part of a talented senior class that raised the Warriors to a level not witnessed in the program since the 1990s.
In then-coach Jeff Jackson’s balanced system, Hubbell never was a 20-point-a-night type of scorer, but clearly could take over a game. Jackson implored her to do so at times, because she was such a team-focused player that she was reluctant to exclusively look for her own shots.
Colleges recognized the talents of the 5-foot-9 shooting guard, and she is patiently waiting to heal and get her chance.
“I’ve seen glimpses of her where she can really get to the basket,” Nelson said. “She can shoot and rebound, she plays hard and she’s a really complete guard. I know basketball is a long season, and she’s going to have plenty of opportunities once she starts feeling more comfortable on her knee.”
Although most of her season was scrapped after the injury, Hubbell’s early minutes helped acclimate her to the college game.
“It was intimidating at first, but I adjusted pretty fast I think,” Hubbell said. “The style of play is a lot faster, but I enjoyed it a lot and took it as a challenge.”
Now, she is close to overcoming another challenge, her biggest to date.
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