By Robert Wilson

       Madison-Ridgeland Academy’s Josh Hubbard was named the Mississippi Gatorade Boys Basketball Player of the Year this week, becoming the first player from the MAIS to receive the statewide honor.

       Gatorade became naming players in each state the award during the 1985-86 season.

       The 5-foot-11 senior point guard and Mississippi State commitment became the all-time leading scorer in Mississippi history this year, breaking a 37-year-old record of Robert Woodard of Houlka in late February. Hubbard scored 4,367 points in his brilliant career.

Hubbard averaged 27.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.1 steals and led MRA to a 34-8 record, the MAIS Class 6A state championship and the Overall Tournament semifinals this season. He shot 50.1 percent from the field, 35.1 percent from 3-point range, and 85.5 percent from the free throw line this season. Hubbard made 117 3-pointers this season.

Hubbard is ranked as the No. 1 overall player in Mississippi and No. 69 overall player in country and the No. 17 point guard in the country on ESPN’s 2023 Top 100 – Hubbard – who has been starting since the eighth grade – became the leading scorer in MAIS history last season when he passed Ken Coghlan, who scored 3,168 points from 1977-1980 at East Rankin Academy.

       “This is an honor for Hubb that is well deserved,” said MRA coach Richard Duease, the second winningest active boys basketball coach in the country and the winningest basketball coach in Mississippi history. “He has been a great player for us for five years. I’m happy for him to be first player from our association to receive this honor. It’s a great honor for him, our school, and our basketball program.

“I’m so proud of Josh and his career. He has gotten better every year. He has great confidence and believes he can make every shot. Josh is a scorer and is a threat when he crosses halfcourt. He has kept his body healthy and used his strength and speed to score and has avoided serious injuries during his career.”

       “It means a lot to be the first player in private school history to win this award in basketball,” Hubbard said. “A lot of legends have won this award in the past. For my name to be added means a lot and I’m grateful to be selected.”

Hubbard – who was given his release from his national letter of intent with Ole Miss after the Rebels announced coach Kermit Davis would not be coming back next season – announced Monday afternoon he is committing to Mississippi State. He will sign with the Bulldogs during the spring NCAA signing period in April. 

       Hubbard – the 2022 Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Boys Basketball Player of the Year – chose MSU over Ole Miss and Seton Hall Monday. He chose Ole Miss over MSU, Seton Hall, Southern Cal, Houston, and Xavier last September and signed with the Rebels in November during the NCAA early signing period.

Hubbard scored a career-high 47 points, including six 3-pointers, and 14 points in the fourth quarter, in an 83-81 loss to Clinton Christian Academy in December. His previous high was when he scored 46 points against MHSAA Class 6A Gulfport as a freshman when he made nine 3-pointers, including two in the last 17 seconds to win the game.

Hubbard averaged 27 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists, made the all-tournament team and led MRA to a sixth-place finish in the 18-team prestigious Arby’s Classic in Bristol, Tenn., which featured some of the best teams and players in the country, during the Christmas holidays.

       He had a game-high 34 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 1 blocked shot in a 71-70 overtime loss to Norcross (Ga.) High, which was ranked No. 23 in the nation by MaxPreps, in MRA’s second game. Hubbard outscored Norcross’ 6-6 senior guard and Georgia signee Lamariyon Jordan, ranked the No. 74 player in the country by ESPN who finished with 15 points and 18 rebounds. MRA led by 18 points in the third quarter.

       Hubbard had 21 points, 3 rebounds and 5 assists in a 71-59 victory over two-time defending Class 2A Tennessee state champion Greeneville School in MRA’s third game.

“Hubb had a great tournament against some of the best teams in the country,” Duease said after the tournament. “He is one of the best players in the country and he showed it by playing well. Hubb made 3s, drove the basket, made pull up jumpers and shot free throws well. He is a complete player. I was proud of him and our entire team in the tournament. Hubb is a special player who is going to play at a high level in college.”

Hubbard was impressive in a tournament in Orlando last summer where college coaches from across the country were there to look at some of the best high school players in the nation.

Hubbard did well against the top-rated player in the country – 6-1 DJ Wagner of Camden, N.J., High and grandson of former NBA player and former All-American at Louisville Milt Wagner and son of former NBA player and former All-American at 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 outscored 6-1 Edgerrin “Bronny” James, son of NBA star LeBron James, 15 points to 11 points in the tournament in Orlando. James is rated as the No. 56 player overall and No. 14 point guard on the ESPN 2023 Top 100.

         Hubbard averaged 17.2 points in 22.7 minutes in four games in the tournament. He shot 53.4 percent from the field (23 of 43), 52.3 percent from 3-point range (11 of 21) and 80 percent from the free throw line (12 of 15).

He averaged 28.8 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals and led MRA to a 33-7 record, a MAIS Class 6A state runner-up finish and an Overall semifinal finish last year as a junior.