Inside Gonzaga's third-floor conference room there was a single camera, sporadic, sedated rounds of applause and Prentiss Hubb, sitting next to friend and teammate Myles Dread, putting pen to paper less than a week after surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
For Hubb, the upcoming season, his senior year, will unfold much like this: quiet, largely out of sight, all actions aimed at a future that was solidified Wednesday morning, when he signed his National Letter of Intent to attend and play basketball at Notre Dame. It was the first day of college basketball's week-long early signing period, and seniors around the country firmed up verbal commitments with a few flicks of a pen. Dread signed his letter of intent to play at Penn State, and both he and Hubb addressed a room that included their parents, teammates, friends and Gonzaga Coach Steve Turner.
But the difference for Hubb — a 6-foot-2 left-handed point guard with a smooth jumper and handles that allow him to weave in and out of defenses — is that he would not be on the court when Gonzaga started practice Wednesday evening. He started rehab Monday and will miss the entire high school season while readying himself for his freshman year of college. He and Dread had shared goals of being the first Gonzaga players to win back-to-back Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championships and the first class to capture three league titles in four years.
Now, after nagging knee pains turned into a diagnosis no athlete wants to hear, Hubb's personal goals have shifted.
"It's just getting stronger, get my knee stronger and go through rehab with a high head and not get down on myself because I can't play this season," Hubb said Wednesday, wearing a white Notre Dame T-shirt. "I'm thinking of it like a positive. I'll come back even stronger with my leg, and it gives me a chance to produce on the team in a different way, be a leader off the court. Usually I'm the leader on the court as a point guard, but this year it will just be different."
Before signing, Hubb pushed himself around school on crutches, going in and out of Gonzaga's basketball gym, outside through a biting midmorning wind, down a flight of stairs while hopping on his left foot and, finally, up an elevator to the conference room, where he could sit down and rest.
Moving is not easy. Neither is accepting that he will be on the sideline as his team prepares for the season, tips off on Dec. 2 and then chases another championship in one of the country's most talented high school basketball leagues. But Hubb, who shared the backcourt with the electric Chris Lykes a season ago, is fixed on the bigger picture. He verbally committed to Notre Dame in May, choosing the Fighting Irish over Maryland and Villanova, among other schools. He missed time this summer with knee soreness and, at the end of October, he learned he had a torn ACL that needed surgery and a season to heal.
For most seniors, signing a letter of intent Wednesday served as a springboard into a final high school season, one that would allow them to play without the stress of a college decision, share the court with lifelong friends and achieve what they have yet to achieve. For Hubb, it was a reminder of what he still has to work toward.
"It's going to be rough not having him this season," said Dread, who will play more point guard with Hubb injured. "But I know he'll have my back just like if I have his. He's going to support me. He's going to give me all he knows. And I'm going to support him in his fight back."
Here is a list of Washington-area senior boys who signed or planned to sign Division I letters-of-intent on Wednesday (with their college choice in parentheses): Springbrook Matthew Balanc (Quinnipiac), O'Connell guard Matt Becht (Mount St. Mary's), Georgetown Prep point guard Jared Bynum (Saint Joseph's), Southern guard Curtis Holland III (High Point), O'Connell point guard Xavier Johnson (Nebraska), Paul VI guard Miles Latimer (Stony Brook), Loudoun Valley guard Jordan Miller (George Mason), Bullis point guard Vado Morse (Mount St. Mary's), St. John's center Richard Njoku (Navy), St. Albans forward Chidozie "Collin" Nnamene (Mount St. Mary's), Georgetown Prep forward Ike Nweke (Columbia), St. Andrew's forward Justin Nwosu (Millersville), Georgetown Prep forward Mezie Offurum (George Washington), Severn School guard L.J. Owens (William & Mary), Episcopal forward Zach Pfaffenberger (Sacred Heart), Paul VI guard Brandon Slater (Villanova), Hylton guard Marcus Stephens (St. Thomas Aquinas), Riverdale Baptist point guard Donovann Toatley (Tennessee-Chattanooga), St. John's point guard Tre Wood (Massachusetts)
And here is a list of Washington-area senior girls who signed or planned to sign Division I letters-of-intent on Wednesday: Riverdale Baptist forward Shakira Austin (Maryland), St. John's guard Jaylin Carodine (James Madison), Bullis guard Macarena "Maqui" Carrillo (Mount St. Mary's), Paul VI forward Amira Collins (Tennessee), Riverdale Baptist forward Lauren Ebo (Penn State), Marshall forward Clara Ford (Boston College), Edison guard Tamrin Henderson (Caldwell), Paul VI guard Kate Klimkiewicz (Boston College), Rock Creek Christian forward Mikayla Pippen (La Salle), Riverdale Baptist guard Honesty Scott-Grayson (Baylor), Episcopal guard/forward Lexi Weger (Princeton)
If there is a player missing from this list, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org