Along with about twenty other collegiate basketball players who took steps down from Power-Conference schools to Mid-Majors following the 2006-07 season, Jonathan Huffman will be eligible to log minutes for his new school, Iona College, this November.
Huffman spent his first two collegiate seasons on Rick Pitino's bench at Louisville. The seven-footer only averaged 4.2 minutes of action in those two seasons. Pitino only started Huffman once, in a game against Dayton. Huffman only saw six minutes on the court, and missed both of his field goal attempts.
After his sophomore season, Huffman decided to transfer from Louisville. The center, who averaged 17.1 points per game and 10.2 rebounds per game in his senior year at Central Park Christian High School, knew that he was worth more than 1.1 points per game.
Rather than stay close to home in Alabama, Huffman followed his assistant coach, Kevin Willard, up to Iona College in New York. Willard had spent six years under Pitino, and was ready for a head-coaching job of his own.
"I've felt comfortable with Coach Willard from the beginning," said Huffman, courtesy of ESPN's Kyle Whelliston. "He's been a real father figure to me. I've always been able to trust him, even with off-the-court stuff. I also didn't want to go through too many new things when I transferred. I've found out that the process of going to a new place is hard enough as it is."
The seven-footer has already had a year to adjust in New Rochelle, and has been accepted by his teammates from day one.
Huffman is already locked in as a starter. Iona SID Brian Beyrer thinks that Huffman will start at power-forward, despite his height, because of his great shooting ability.
During the Gaels Labor Day Weekend trip to Canada, the seven-footer shot 16-20 from the field. Ten of those twenty field-goal attempts were launched from behind the arc, and Huffman connected on all but one. "I don't think one of the nine makes actually hit the rim," said Beyrer in an e-mail.
It is hard to believe that Pitino was unable to take advantage of Huffman's shooting ability, and it is almost as hard to believe this seven-footer has such a smooth stroke.
Huffman was 6'5" for most of his high school career, and had a great stroke from the field. Towards the end of his high school playing days, Huffman shot up to 7'0", and told Whelliston, "I was always a good outside shooter, but once I grew, I never lost my touch."
Well, if this is not a blessing for Iona, I don't know what would be. Not only are they getting a talented shooter, but they also receive a seven-foot presence on defense.
“He has the ability to change shots on the inside but I don’t anticipate him being a big shot blocker, despite his size,” claimed Beyrer. “There’s a reason he was a high-major recruit at Louisville, unfortunately for him, he was behind a bunch of big-time post players (Padgett, Clark, Caracter, Palacios, etc.), and couldn’t crack the lineup there.”
At Iona, Huffman will be the big-time post player. There is no doubt that Huffman will have a humongous impact on the Gaels. A versatile big man, like Huffman, will always be able to flourish in the MAAC.
For Huffman and all the other transfers who are now eligible, we can only hope that the change of setting is positive for them because they cannot transfer again.
At least for Huffman, things seem to be going well.