Former Houston Baptist star Ian DuBose finds portal to Power Five

Houston Baptist guard Ian Dubose (0) drives from the top of the key in the first half of a college basketball game Saturday, Dec 14, 2019, in Houston.

Houston Baptist guard Ian Dubose (0) drives from the top of the key in the first half of a college basketball game Saturday, Dec 14, 2019, in Houston.

Joe Buvid, Houston Chronicle / Contributor

The first day Houston Baptist’s Ian DuBose made himself available in the basketball transfer portal three weeks ago, he was contacted by 30 schools from across the country. Programs in the Big Ten, SEC, ACC and Big East came calling.

In all, close to 50 teams showed interest in DuBose, who announced his commitment to Wake Forest last week. His pledge to the ACC institution came just days before the Southland’s leading scorer was selected as the conference’s men’s basketball 2019-20 Student-Athlete of the Year with a 3.84 GPA.

“It was a fortunate position to be in, but it was a lot to digest,” said DuBose, a North Carolina native who averaged 19 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.4 steals for the Huskies this past season. “Wow, there’s a lot of options out there. It’s always great to have options.

Saying that he will be a “Husky for life,” DuBose, a soon-to-be graduate student, enjoyed his three seasons playing for HBU coach Ron Cottrell, starting 89 of 90 games. But DuBose, a two-time second-team All-SLC performer, wanted to play on a higher level. He chose Wake Forest over North Carolina State, Arkansas, Northwestern, DePaul and Georgetown.

“I want to pursue a professional basketball career after my collegiate career is over,” said DuBose, who scored a career-high 44 points in the Huskies’ 111-107 overtime win over Central Arkansas this season. “So I wanted to set myself up and go someplace that will push me and continue to help me expand my game and get a good amount of exposure.

“I wanted to go to a high-major school. It came down to which situation would be best for me to come in and have the impact and help the team. I decided Wake would be the best fit.”

As a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play immediately for the Demon Deacons and coach Danny Manning. DuBose is scheduled to complete his bachelor’s degree at HBU major in kinesiology, minor in psychology on May 9 and expected to sign with Wake Forest shortly after.

DuBose, 21, will be joining a struggling Wake Forest program. With the Huskies, he played a major role in HBU’s 93-91 overtime win at Wake Forest in November 2018. Part of DuBose’s 18 points came on a game-tying contested 3-pointer with a half-second remaining in regulation.

“That was one of the highlights of my career,” said DuBose, a 6-4, 210-pound guard. “It’s crazy how things come full circle. I was so excited to be home. I was honored to even play there. So to have an opportunity and fortunately coming through with the win was a blessing.”

A proven scorer, DuBose, who attempted and made more free throws than any player in the SLC in 2019-20, said there’s a lot he will miss about HBU.

“I love HBU,” DuBose said. “The coaches definitely gave me an opportunity and a platform. They’ve helped me grow as a man and as a basketball player. It was tough, but I just wanted to make a great decision on my career and move to the next level.

“I’ve had a good relationship with Coach (Ron) Cottrell and the coaches for over five years. They’ve known me since my sophomore year of high school. I’m very fortunate to have Coach Cottrell give me an opportunity and he has helped me a lot. I’ve been growing as a player and I want to grow and continue to push myself to become better.

“I’m going to a higher level with more competition. It’s definitely going to be a challenge, but it’s something I’m excited for and ready to embrace and I’m ready to step up.”

Wake Forest lost three senior guards from a 13-18 team that was 6-14 in ACC games and finished in a tie for last place with North Carolina and Pittsburgh.

“Coach (Danny) Manning is emphasizing to me, and all the other assistant coaches emphasizing there’s a development plan for me and how they see me fitting in,” DuBose said. “And how to develop and grow as a player was huge because I’m big on growth.

“There’s a (situation) where there’s a need for guys like me, older guys, to come in and lead a team and help contribute and, scoring-wise, I’m able to score the ball. Being able to come in and help the team score was big for me.”

In three seasons at HBU, DuBose’s numbers improved each year across the board.

As a sophomore, DuBose was second-team All-SLC and second-team academic All-SLC, averaging 17 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.6 steals. He led the conference in 3-point percentage at 43.8 percent (53-of-121) and posted a career-high 13 rebounds (at Samford) and a career-best nine assists (Incarnate Word).

As a freshman in 2017-18, DuBose collected a career-high five steals (Central Arkansas) and four blocks (at Lamar). He scored 20 points at Vanderbilt.

In two games against Sam Houston State this season, both losses by the Huskies (4-25 overall, 4-16 SLC), DuBose scored 27 and 20 points.

“He was always hard for us to stop and definitely we had to game plan for,” Sam Houston State coach Jason Hooten said of DuBose. “The hard part with him was you could be doing a good job on him and then he could just go off for 10 or 12 (points) in a row. He did that against us at our place near the end of the year.”

This season, DuBose posted nine double-doubles, tied for second-most in conference. He surpassed 1,000 career points and ended with 1,446 over three seasons, eighth all-time at HBU. His 44-point outburst against Central Arkansas was the most by a Southland player since the 2010-11 season.

“I’ve grown. I’ve become more a playmaker and scorer,” DuBose said. “A guy who can shoot the ball, finish at the rim, get past guys. If coach needs me to guard a bigger guy, I’m strong enough. If coach needs me to guard a smaller, quicker guy, I’m quick enough.”

Coming out of Ravenscroft High School in Raleigh, N.C., DuBose was lightly recruited, a backup plan for college coaches. HBU made DuBose a high priority in its recruitment of him.

“Houston Baptist deserves a lot of credit for how hard they worked to recruit him and how hard they worked to make him better and to put him in a position where he could be successful,” Hooten said.

Until his official recruiting visit, DuBose had never been to Houston.

At Ravenscroft, a college prep school, DuBose was a four-year starter and two-year captain, graduating with a 4.0 GPA. He was a member of both the National Honor Society and National Spanish Honor Society.

“I always felt I was a good player,” said DuBose, who after his playing days would like to get into athletic training or physical therapy. “It’s not like I came out of nowhere. A lot of people stereotyped me as an undersized big man, but I’ve been a big guard my whole life.”

A son of parents who both have a master’s degree, DuBose is a two-time SLC Commissioner’s Honor Roll honoree and has been on the Dean’s List all five of his semesters on campus. He’s the first HBU men’s basketball player to be named Southland Student-Athlete of the Year.

“Ian being honored in this manner by our conference is a testament to our entire program and the type of character, academic achievement and athletic accomplishment we expect from all of our young men,” Cottrell said. “We pride ourselves on having student-athletes who are respected members of our university community, who are successful in the classroom, and are leaders both within our student body and to the outside world.”