Published March 6, 2014, in The Journal News/LoHud.com
Just when Lincoln High graduate Dustin Hogue feels ready to give up after a long practice or training session, a voice creeps into his head.
They said you weren’t good enough.
When he feels as if he’s reached his limits — no more jumpers, no more sprints — or when he starts to get discouraged for even a fraction of a second, he can hear the skeptics.
“Every time I’m running and I feel like I’m about to give up,” he said, “or every time I’m shooting and I feel like I can’t take another shot, or I put my head down a little bit — I always think, ‘Oh, well, they didn’t want you.’ So, ya know, show them what they’re missing.”
The response is simple: Show them what they’re missing.
Even now, as he averages 10.5 points and 8.6 rebounds per game for Iowa State (22-6) — the 16th-ranked team in The Associated Press men’s basketball poll — Hogue hears the voices of doubt.
The voices started when Hogue was a junior at Lincoln, where, despite earning all tri-county honors in 2010, he drew minimal attention from Division I programs.
The other four honorees — Mount Vernon’s Jabarie Hinds (West Virginia), North Rockland’s John Perez (SUNY Plattsburgh) and New Rochelle’s Antoine Mason (Niagara) and P.J. Torres (Duquesne) — drew collegiate suitors. Hogue did not.
“That hurt more than anything,” Hogue said. “I think that’s what led me to elevate my game the way I did, that I had no looks coming out of high school.”
A season at NIA Prep in Newark, N.J., didn’t help his prospects, and Hogue returned to Lincoln to graduate in the spring of 2011 without any Division I offers.
It wasn’t just competitors receiving attention that bothered him. An example of how Hogue thought his high school career should have played out happened right in his home.
Hogue’s brother Doug was a talented football player at Roosevelt, went on to play at Syracuse, where he was twice named All-Big East, and was selected by the Detroit Lions in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL draft.
“That made me think I was slacking to an extent,” Dustin said. “That made me work harder. We had this little rivalry going, and I can’t hold up my end of the bargain because I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be.”
Hogue headed to Indian Hills Community College in Iowa, where he averaged 10.6 points and 5.7 rebounds as a freshman and 12.9 points and 5.4 rebounds as a sophomore. More important, he matured on and off the court.
“(Indian Hills) helped me extend my game,” Hogue said. “(Indian Hills) made me realize to keep a level head. You have to learn how to lose to win. I’ve learned how to take criticism better.”
As his sophomore season ended, Hogue drew interest from Iowa, Iowa State, Texas Tech, Nevada and Missouri — all Division I programs. He decided to stay in the Midwest, traveling less than two hours to play for coach Fred Hoiberg at Iowa State.
“Maybe Iowa has something that I needed in my whole basketball career that I never knew about,” Hogue said. “Let me stay here and try to make something big out of myself.”
Hogue knew the coaches wanted him to use his athleticism for defense and rebounding to support an already potent offense. When forward Melvin Ejim, the Big 12’s leading rebounder last season, suffered a knee injury in the preseason and missed the first two games of the regular season, Hogue saw his opening.
He averaged 8.5 rebounds in his first two games, then recorded 10 rebounds in the Cyclones’ 77-70 win against then-No.7 Michigan.
“Once I did it once, I was able to contribute that every night,” Hogue said. “That was my way of getting on the court.”
At 6-foot-6 and 215 pounds, Hogue prides himself on being an enforcer in the paint, something he picked up while playing back home.
“Yonkers is no easy place to play,” Hogue said. “You not only have to play hard, you have to make a name for yourself, or else people won’t respect you.”
Hogue is pleased with the respect he’s earned this season. But the naysayers’ voices haven’t left Hogue’s head just yet.
“I just think there are always higher goals I can reach,” Hogue said. “So I should never be satisfied with my performance.”