‘Short,’ ‘small,’ and ‘vertically-challenged’ are words quarterback Max Staver and center Josh Ibarra have not heard associated with their heights. Standing at 6’6” and 6’11” respectively, Staver and Ibarra are two sophomores who are expected to have major roles on their teams this year. Both have had interesting journeys getting to HBU.
Staver enters his first season in the football program, after transferring in from Tyler Junior College at the start of the spring semester in 2015. HBU will be his fourth school since graduating from high school in 2013.
“I have had to get used to change everywhere I’ve been,” Staver said. “Even playing high school football in Tennessee, I went to two different schools and had four different head coaches across four seasons.”
“With a traditional FCS program that starts up like we have, it is not often that you have a player with the football DNA like Max,” head football coach Vic Shealy said. “To have a guy with his capability and three seasons of eligibility, gives both our program and him a tremendous opportunity to grow and improve as we move forward. Max is uniquely positioned to be the player that most defines how you go from zero to 100 in building a program by the time he is done here.”
Ibarra’s journey to HBU is different; he was not always a basketball player. Growing up in Angleton, Texas, his first love was football, but when he was 14, his brother Jordan introduced him to basketball one afternoon while playing outside.
“I had played football since the time I was about 10 years old,” Ibarra said. “I played defensive end mainly, but there’s only one job—go after whoever has the football. With basketball, you can score, rebound, block, and steal the ball. There’s a lot of ways someone can contribute on both ends of the court without necessarily showing up in the stats.”
“Since coming to HBU, I’ve been getting taller every day,” Ibarra said. “I’m 6’11” now and still get growing pains in my shins, so who knows where I’ll stop?”
“Believe it or not, as big of a player as he is, Josh really was an under-the-radar kind of player,” head basketball coach Ron Cottrell said. “With as much potential as he possesses and as excited as we are to have him, he was not someone who was heavily recruited out of high school.
Now entering his sophomore season, Ibarra hopes to shoulder the load as the team’s center.
“He knows it takes a lot of work to be a great player and he’s really committed himself to that,” Cottrell said. “We’ve talked with him about how he can be the best big-man in the league. We really believe that and so does he, but he knows he isn’t there right now. He has seen himself improve from the time he stepped on campus until now, and I think he realizes there’s further he can go if he keeps pushing himself.