Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Life lessons learned on long and winding road

March 1, 2002

Experiences can take someone a lot of different places. They’ve taken Hawkeye guard Ryan Hogan from Illinois to Kentucky to Iowa, with stops all along the way.

And experiences have dictated his role on the basketball court. The 23-year-old has morphed from a high school superstar to a practice player at Kentucky to veteran leader and role player for the Iowa Hawkeyes (16-13 overall, 5-10 Big Ten).

He’s averaging 6.2 points off the Hawkeye bench and has hit 51 percent of his three-pointers this year, tops in the Big Ten.

Hogan said he’s relished the chance to play with two of the great players in college basketball - Hawkeye guard Luke Recker and forward Reggie Evans.

Recker and Hogan have developed a good friendship, both sitting out their transfer year in 1999-00 for the Hawkeyes. The two have been facing each other since high school and graduated the same year.

Hogan said he and Recker talk about all they’ve been through and joke about how long it’s taken for their eligibility to expire.

“We’re the oldest ones,” he said. “We always joke around and talk about how we’ve been around too long and that it’s time to give the young guys a chance.”

And while the headlines, hype and spotlight shine most prominently on Recker and Evans, Hogan said he doesn’t mind working in the shadows.

“Through my maturity, I’ve just found my niche on the court,” he said. “Whether that’s making the right pass, screening, being a leader on the floor or just doing different things in order for me to play the game.”

“They don’t need me to score all those points. We have guys who can do that.”

A look at his past proves Hogan is one of them.

In a four-year varsity career at Deerfield High School in Deerfield, Ill., Hogan wowed fans, opponents, media and college recruiters with his prolific scoring ability.

The 6-foot-4, 185-pound guard compiled impressive career numbers, as he averaged 24.4 points a game. Even the first of an eventual three injuries to his left knee didn’t stop him from becoming Lake County’s all-time leading scorer.

After being heavily recruited, Hogan settled on becoming a Kentucky Wildcat.

Even though he played just 72 minutes during the Wildcats’ 1997-98 NCAA championship season, Hogan said the experience more than made up for it.

“I played in practice every day and worked just as hard as the next guy, but I didn’t get that time on the floor, which I would have liked to,” he said.

“But, that experience is probably the best I’ve had in college basketball, and probably the most helpful throughout my career.”

Having to play out of the spotlight was a tough lesson for Hogan to learn, and he still occasionally wishes he could be the superstar he was in his prep days.

“I miss it a little bit, because I would kind of like to be the guy scoring all the points and getting all the headlines,” he said. “But to be honest, I’m pretty much content with what’s going on and with what my role on the team is today.”

Hawkeye coach Steve Alford said Hogan’s been one of the sure things for his team this year, which has struggled with preseason hype as the conference favorite.

“I think Ryan is one of the guys who has really worked hard, really prepared, and been our most consistent player game-in and game-out,” Alford said. “He probably did the best job coming into this season with a very tough mind-set of really wanting to improve.”

Opposing coaches have seen Hogan shine, even when the rest of the Hawkeyes have sputtered.

Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody said Hogan stood out in Northwestern’s 70-60 win on Jan. 9, over then-ranked No. 13 Iowa.

And his consistency could help the Hawkeyes in the postseason.

“He’s a very good shooter and a veteran scorer,” Carmody said. “If Hogan can get hot and stretch it out, that certainly helps their inside game and they can certainly make a run.”

And while Hogan can stretch out a defense now, he’s not too sure he can extend his playing career. But, the veteran has no regrets and knows his years playing weren’t a waste.

“Throughout my career, I’ve had three knee injuries, so I’ve had some setbacks,” he said. “But you learn how to deal with adversity.

“I know from my five years of college basketball that with anything I do in the future I’m going to come back to my experiences from basketball and hopefully use it to my advantage.”

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