It is a fact that it doesn´t matter where you played college ball, because guys have proved over and over that you can come from JUCO and not only make it the pro level, but also get to the highest level. The guys who have done it have been numerous and it hasn´t been any different for Dustin Hogue. Only a few years after showing his potential and growing skill level at Indian Hills(JUCO), he landed in Greece in the first division. It didn´t take him long there to find his niche and perform on a consistent level and swipe down rebounds like an art as he ended his rookie season as the second best rebounder in Greece. It also didn´t take long for him to get comparisons to top center Kyle Hines who currently has the distinction of being the winningest American Euroleague player with 4 titles. He rapidly received the nickname Hines like and that has stayed with him until today. At that time Kyle Hines was continuing to build his incredible resume with CSKA Moscow and their paths wouldn´t meet until 2019. Hogue also continued to carve out his resume after three prosperous years in Italy and in the 2019-2020 season he moved to Enisey Krasnoyarsk (Russia-VTB) and finally would be able to play against Hines. Ino time was wasted either as they met on the first game day in the VTB. If the American were to retire tomorrow, he could always boast that I am 1-0 against Kyle Hines. His team surprisingly beat CSKA Moscow 80-71 and he didn´t disappoint with his trade mark double double play with 11/10. Kyle Hines came from the bench and played only 14 minutes with 2/4 stats. That 1-0 record could forever stand as Kyle Hines is in the twilight of his career and could finish his legendary career retiring on top in Milan. The Hines talk is something that will always be with him and he won´t forget. “In my first season playing I was always told I played like him and didn’t even really knew who he was “no offense I didn’t follow” but years later I finally got a chance to play against him and wanted to make a note to myself to try to play well since it’s such a good team with great talent”, remembered Dustin Hogue. The Kyle Hines Similarities and Sixth Sense of knowing where the rebound will go will never end for Dustin Hogue who believes the classic Coming To America should have been left alone.
Dustin Hogue is a 29 year old 198cm center from Yonkers, New York who lists current top NBA player Joel Embiid as the toughest player he batted in the NCAA even though he wasn´t the player then what he is now played ball at Lincoln high school. He was ranked at 208 in the country at that time. In his freshman season he attended Indian Hills(JUCO) averaged 10,6ppg and 5,7rpg and in his second season led the team to a brilliant 24-1 record reaching the Elite 8 and finishing seventh. He averaged 12,9ppg and 5,4rpg and also got Second-Team All-Region XI. He was in very good company at Indian Hills as some other great players had played therebefore him that would later play at high levels like Dwight Buycks but also guys like Brandon Spearman, Chris Mcneal and Terry Black. It doesn´t matter who I have spoken to, but 99% of guys that have told their journey always credit JUCO for being the best thing that could of ever happened to them and it wasn´t any different for Dustin Hogue. “For me it was my first time away from home and I wanted to show my independence. I wanted to make sure I can handle going to school and becoming the player I was meant to be I’ve always said JUCO helped make me the player I am today. One thing about JUCO is there’s 12 players from all around the world fighting every single day for a spot on the court and practice would be relentless and aggressive and once you develop that hunger to stay on top of your game and get better you never really lose it. So I agree JUCO definitely helped me”, stated Dustin Hogue.
After a fruitful career at Indian Hills(JUCO) the center who remembers always beating future NBA player Abdel Nader in one on one´s made the next step to the wonderful program of head coach Fred Hoiberg at Iowa State. He came at a very successful time as the school had reached 6 consecutive NCAA tournaments and he was there twice. In his junior season he averaged 11.6ppg, 8.4rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 57.3%, 3PT: 34.4%, FT: 66.4%. He scored in double figures 22 times and had had 7 double doubles. He helped his team shock North Carolina 85-83 in the NCAA tournament having 14 points, 7 boards and 3 assists. “That game was so important being that everyone had us as an underdog going against that team and I wanted to be able to dominate that matchup to give my team that edge. There were many moments during my two years there and that for sure is one of them”, remembered Dustin Hogue. They then went on to lose a heart breaker 81-77 to eventual winner UConn but he left his mark exploding with 34 points. In his senior season he played 4 less minutes and his stats dipped to 9.3ppg, 4.9rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 61.4%, 3PT: 43.1%, FT: 55.0%, but he vastly improved his three pointer. He scored in double figures 16 times and season highlights included scoring 19 points against Oklahoma and a classic 13/13 game in a win over arch rival Iowa. He will never remember his time at Iowa State not only of the team success, but also his teammates as a whole pack reached the NBA with Monte Morris, Nazareth Mitrou-Long, Georges Niang, Abdel Nader, Matt Thomas and Bryce Dejean-Jones. There was never any doubt that these guys would go far in their careers. “I have always had the most faith in my team and I really believed that Iowa State team was special and surrounded by great talent. These are things we all would talk about when we would hangout and I’m glad I’m able to watch my teammates all playing somewhere”, commented Dustin Hogue. It was also a no brainer as to which of his ex Iowa State teammates had the biggest impact on him. “The summer going into my senior year was for sure the most impactful with my brother Abdel Nader. We both played the same position and were both roommates so we were great friends off the court but his red shirt year was ending so it was a matter of which one of us would have the small forward spot and that caused us to compete on the court in the weight room and it was maybe the most intense summer of my career”, remembered Dustin Hogue. He started all 70 games and left as only one of two Big 12 players to record 700 point and 450 rebounds in his last two seasons. He won two Big 12 tournaments and also was named to the NCAA All-Tournament East Region Team and All-Big 12 Honorable Mention. He knows today just how vital the guidance of head coach Fred Hoiberg was. “He was a coach that had a very professional style system more letting us play the way we did and it helped a lot that we were one of the top 3 point shooting teams in the country so he would work with me after practice to help with my shot and form and confidence was a big factor because when a coach puts trust in you to make plays it makes you confident in your abilities”, explained Dustin Hogue.
The New York native who believes Lebron James is the greatest of all-time with Michael Jordan a close second began his rookie campaign with AE Nea Kifisia Dimoulas Athens (Greece-A1) playing 28 games averaging 12.5ppg, Reb-2(8.1rpg), 1.4apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 52.1%, 3PT: 27.3%, FT: 66.0%. It is never easy for an American to come overseas for the very first time as there are so many cultural differences as well as playing styles. His play on the court never suffered, but he had to make adjustments off the court. “Trying to order food and nobody speaking English was a real wake up call. Basketball is going to be something you can adjust to but the neverending game of charades trying to communicate with people in your outside like or mistakenly buying flowers thinking it’s sugar. It was a learning experience but I’ve adjusted”, laughed Dustin Hogue. He scored in double figures in 21 of 28 games and recorded 10 double doubles. His biggest highlights that season was battling against top Euroleague teams Panathinaikos and Olympiakos. He lost all 4 games, but twice was very close to winning and registered two double doubles. He played against ex NBA players and top European players like Othello Hunter, Shawn James, James Gist and Miro Raduljica? Being able to stand his own against top talent like that was massive for his early development. “Those games were everything in my rookie year seeing they were where I wanted to be. It was my chance to play against the best guys in the country so I had a different energy for the game and was excited to play against James Gist I wanted to see his versatility and what a euro league talent looked like”, stressed Dustin Hogue. Instead of becoming a basketball nomad, he next played three seasons with Italian Serie A team Dolomiti Energia Trento. Here he made the next step in his career becoming a top 5 rebounder in the Eurocup and Serie A averaging 10/7, 9/7 and 10/6 in the Serie A and 12/5 and 12/6 in the Eurocup. “Those were maybe 3 of the best years from being pro I was real involved with people around the community. We visited schools and fans and friends were always great but the games that stick out the most were the games in Venice. It would get so loud we couldn’t hear ourselves talk or think it had the atmosphere of a college arena and it didn’t help they didn’t like me too much haha but definitely memorable games”, added Dustin Hogue. In his three years in Italy he played 112 Serie A games scoring in double figures in 61 games and had 13 double doubles including hitting Euroleague team Milan for 23 points and Grissin Bon RE for 21 points. In Eurocup action he played 17 games and scored in double figures in 11 games and had 4 double doubles having a massive 27/10 game against Cedivita and 20/10 game against Asvel. He was fortunate to have two great teammates in future Euroleague player Shavon Shields and Dominique Sutton who became like brothers to him. “Both those guys were great teammates I still speak to them from time to time to check in and see how they are doing. I miss those guys and still follow Shavon in Milan. Sutton was undersized like me and was able to exploit matchups and take advantage of his size so I was able to learn a lot from watching those guys as well playing besides them and getting better every day in practice”, remembered Dustin Hogue. He then took another step in his career heading to Russia to play for Enisey Krasnoyarsk (Russia-VTB). He put up consistent stats as usual and belonged to the top rebounders in the VTB averaging 11,6ppg Reb-5(6.9rpg), 1.2apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 64.5%, 3PT: 16.7%, FT: 63.6% in his first season and 12,0ppg, Reb-3(7.6rpg), 2.2apg, FGP: 65.7%, 3PT-3(50.0%), FT: 55.6%. He played 41 VTB league games and scored in double figures in 27 games and had 10 double doubles including 27 and 21 points against Euroleague team Lokomotiv Kuban and 23 points against Kalev/Cramo and 22 points against Euroleague team Khimki.In Eurocup play he averaged 11.2ppg, 6.3rpg, 1.5apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT-1(80.0%), FT: 61.4%. He scored in double figures in five games and had two double doubles including 24 points against Leiden. His time in the VTB was eye opening as his game really flourished. “I’ve always been good at reading where the ball is going and being able to move around bigger defenders. I think now I’m starting to shoot the 3 ball a little more and finding my spots scoring the ball better I’ve been playing much more power forward this year and my coach is taking advantage at my ability to defend more guards”, stressed Dustin Hogue. One player that he won´t forget from his two year Russian experience was athletic freak Garlon Green who is the brother of NBA dunk champion Gerald. “I shared his book on my Facebook to show some support and I got myself a copy and trust me it’s some great things in there you should order one. Garlon Green was always a freak of nature with his jumping ability. No stretching no warm up can go up and do any dunk he felt like it was amazing”, said Dustin Hogue.
The undersized center who lists Aaron Craft, Shavon Shields. Leyton Hammonds, Domonique Sutton and Robert Lowery as his five best teammates of all-time is a player that has never been amused of comparing his game to an NBA player, but if he had to it would have been the worm Dennis Rodman as a guy who can hang and rebound with any big and prides his game on defense. When he hangs up his jersey one day, he won´t be able to get around to people forever saying that rebounding was his bread and butter as a professional. “I have been good at seeing if a ball is going long or falling short. It’s always been like a 6th sense for me and getting to my spots faster than bigs that are 2.08 and it don’t seem so difficult if I do my work early”, commented Dustin Hogue. His success as a player can be traced back to childhood and beyond where his older brother Doug had a huge influence on him. He had a very short NFL career which can´t always be avoided and his whole journey has been pivotal in the route that Dustin has been able to enjoy to follow. “I’m very blessed to have a sibling guide me throughout his career and tell me how to be a professional. On the court I’m having the most fun every game and I’m really happy to be out there competing with some of the best talent. My brother is actually the one that taught me how to play basketball and my first sport was actually football and as you can see I bring a lot of that aggression with me on the floor now I understand it’s a different game but basketball is still a very physical sport”, stated Dustin Hogue. One aspect of his game that hasn´t changed at all through his development has been his consistency which has been with him since JUCO ball. “I think I’ve been fortunate to have coaches that have let me play my game without changing it too much to where I’m not myself from Italy and Russia and now in Romania I have great coaches who instill confidence and my desire to get better every year has kept me on a good pace “, added Dustin Hogue.
So let´s fast forward to 2022 as the American who has Lebron James Kobe Bryant Michael Jordan Shaquille O´Neal and Magic Johnson on his personal NBA Mount Rushmore is in his seventh professional season and first with U-Banca Transilvania Cluj Napoca (Romania-Liga Nationala). For a guy who in six seasons had only reached two Serie A finals and was seeking that first chip, it finally came true this year as he helped the Rumanian team win the Super Cup. Plus the team is running away with the Regular season title sporting a 23-2 record and are in the Basketball Champions League quarterfinals. If that wasn´t a good enough reason to contemplate a longer stay with this organization, I wouldn´t know what would be. “I wouldn’t have any problem staying here. This city and team was built very well and I think I’m a good fit here. The coaching staff and the players I’m surrounded by let me be the type of player I am and the normal day to day life is also comfortable”, said Dustin Hogue. The organization has won 14 league titles and with Covid he has seen what kind of a difference the true faith of the fans are. “The fans have made me really understand this is a basketball city. When I first arrived here the Covid restrictions stopped us from having any fans in the gym but now I see how loud the crowd gets and how they travel to distant games and show support it’s a warming feeling knowing there’s a full city behind you with big expectations”, stressed Dustin Hogue. The two loses the club had in the Romanian league were very close and they lost the cup final by one point. Sometimes you need that experience of losing to understand things better about how you can win. “We try to take every game seriously and use it as a stepping stool to get better and move forward and sometimes that doesn’t always go as planned. Voluntary played a great game and helped us understand some things about us and how we need to become better. Nothing but respect for them but now we are on a mission to redeem that loss and win the title at the end of the season”, warned Dustin Hogue. Every season he has new teammates from whom he can learn valuable things. He knows that one can always learn things from veterans like Patrick Richard who had great and productive seasons in Germany. “There’s always something to learn with the game of basketball and Pat definitely helps me and all the players get better with the little things. When and how to read defenses or how or when to be assertive so that 5 guys can show their full potential without stepping on each other’s toes. I think he’s done a great job of that this season”, expressed Dustin Hogue. The next hurdle in getting his second professional title continues in Ludwigsburg, Germany tomorrow in a quarterfinal clash against the MHP Riesen. In this competition being the underdog has definitely made them stronger. “We have been the underdog every game we played and it’s like we are used to it. Some of the other teams are big names in comparison to Cluj Napoca but we are trying to put the league on notice that we are a force to be reckoned with. They are a hard playing team maybe one of the hardest playing and best defensive team of all the teams left. I think this is going to be a physical and hard fought game about two teams that have to show who has the most heart in the end”, warned Dustin Hogue. This international club games are usually also a great scouting opportunity and often you see players that had great games suddenly land in that country the next season. Who knows if MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg head coach John Patrick will jot down Hogue´s name on his note pad, but then again the 2010 Eurochallenge winner with BG Goettingen probably already knows the game of the Hines-Like player. But if the Basketball Champions League Cinderella story continues and the Romanian side can win another or even two more titles, then I can bet that Dustin Hogue will pull another Dolomiti Energia Trento. Why not stay in a place like Romania where you can win? Why not continue winning while keeping the Hines-Like comparison and sixth sense for grabbing rebounds.