Transferring to UIC right move for Humes

Hayden Humes had planned to spend his entire college basketball career at Toledo.

Humes saw significant minutes last season as a redshirt freshman for the Rockets, averaging 5.7 points and 5.1 rebounds. He appeared to have a bright future at Toledo.

Then one day, that future became less clear.

Humes was called into Toledo’s basketball office after last season and was told that due to the program’s Academic Progress Rate penalty, which cost the team three scholarships, he would have to relinquish his athletic scholarship, but he could possibly qualify for an academic one.

Humes decided he would transfer and pursue another option. His father, Patrick Humes, sent out emails looking for suitors.

As Humes was making his decision 240 miles away, Illinois-Chicago coach Howard Moore was in Chicago keeping his eyes open for any late additions. As luck would have it, Moore was one of those coaches who received an email from Humes’ father.

Moore was interested right away. It had only been a few months earlier that Humes had scored 21 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in Toledo’s two games against the Flames.

In UIC, Humes found a program that was close to his home in Valparaiso, Ind. and needed a versatile big man. In Humes, Moore got another piece to his rebuilding puzzle. For both, it’s been a perfect match.

“At first I was mad [at Toledo], but I understand it’s a business decision,” Humes said prior to Saturday’s home game against Loyola. “[Toledo coach Tod Kowalczyk] had to do what he had to do. It is what it is. I’m very happy to be at UIC. I think it was a blessing in disguise. I wouldn’t have it any other way to be honest.”

The NCAA granted Humes immediate eligibility this season, and he’s quickly paid dividends for a young UIC team. He leads the Horizon League with a 46.3 3-point percentage (19 of 41) and has averaged 7.0 points and 5.6 rebounds.

Humes’ frame (6-foot-8, 215 pounds) and perimeter shooting ability reminds Moore of a number players he coached while an assistant at Wisconsin. Moore has tried to utilize Humes as the Badgers did with versatile big men Jon Leuer and Joe Krabbenhoft, allowing him to get inside and outside looks.

Humes has always been a shooter. It’s just something that seems to be in the water in his hometown of Valparaiso. Notre Dame guard Scott Martin and Purdue forward Robbie Hummel were products of the same high school just before Humes.

“Most guys from Valparaiso are pretty versatile,” Humes said. “It’s something we all do growing up.”

Humes is your quintessential Indiana basketball player. He grew up around the game. His sisters were high school stars. He spends his days and nights thinking basketball.

“I love the game, watch the game, play the game,” Humes said. “It’s my passion.”

That passion for the game it made it easy for Moore to get Humes to buy into what both call being the “glue” of the team.

“I’m trying to be the team’s glue guy,” Humes said. “I’m doing the stuff that may not pop up in the statistics, but basketball minds can usually tell when someone is doing that stuff.”

Moore’s hope is for Humes to be that role player this season and the next two years ahead as he continues to try to restore UIC’s program.

“He’s the guy I can always go to get things done and bring some stability to both ends of the floor,” Moore said. “The guy who is there to take the charge, to make the right pass, who can hit the open shot after the extra pass, get the loose ball, get the 50/50 balls us coaches talk about . That’s what we need from our glue guy.”