Hudson shining on court, in studio

By Gus Bode

The life of former SIU and Carbondale Community High School basketball star Troy Hudson has changed quite a bit in the last couple years.

Following a breakout season with the Orlando Magic in 2001-2002, Hudson underwent a change of scenery, trading in the warm sun of Florida for the brutal winters of Minnesota.

In his first full season as a starting point guard in the NBA, Hudson shined as a free agent signee for the Minnesota Timberwolves. During the 2002-2003 season, Hudson set career highs across the board, including points per game (14.2) and assists per game (5.7).

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Even a heartbreaking first-round playoff defeat at the hands of three-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers last month couldn’t overshadow a brilliant performance by Hudson.

Averaging 23.5 points per game and a series-high 5.5 assists, the Saluki record-holder for points in a two-year career (1,164) solidified himself as one of the NBA’s fastest rising stars.

“My life has changed a lot,” said Hudson, who was in Carbondale Saturday sponsoring his second annual 5-on-5 basketball tournament at the same Lake Heights housing development where he grew up. “There are a lot more people who recognize me. It feels good to finally get a chance to showcase my skills on the NBA level day in and day out.”

Despite Hudson’s newfound fame, he never takes a day for granted. And with what he went through to get to this point, who can blame him.

“From where I come from, coming out of college and not being drafted and then going to the CBA, it’s hard for me to be secure,” Hudson said, looking financially secure next to his off-white Cadillac Escalade and tricked out Land Rover. “I just continue to work hard as if I’m trying to make the team. I think that’s the mindset I have to take.”

While Hudson is enjoying his time in Minnesota, he is determined to put an immediate end to the streak that has haunted teammate Kevin Garnett and the Wolves since they first became an NBA franchise in 1989.

The Wolves have failed to make a second-round playoff appearance in their existence, including a current streak of seven consecutive first-round playoff defeats.

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“We just need to play the way we played this year,” said Hudson, trying to find the answer to a question Garnett has heard his entire career. “We played great in the playoffs. It was a tough loss for us. I think if we continue to work hard and play the way we’ve been playing, it’s going to happen for us.”

While getting Minnesota to the second-round is a priority, it is not the only goal that occupies Hudson’s mind. When he is not on the court working on his game, he can be found in the studio in pursuit of his second dream – rap music.

Inspired by the late Tupac Shakur, Hudson has his own label, Nuttyboyz Entertainment, and has recorded more than 100 songs in his studio. He also spends time scouting young musical talent, including girlfriend of two years and Nuttyboyz artist Monique Moy.

“He’s really good. He works so hard at it,” said Moy, whose album, From My Heart To Your Ears, will be released later this summer. “He’ll come in from the court and go straight to the studio, record three or four songs and then get up in the morning and go to practice.”

With much of his time spent on the basketball court, Hudson’s debut album has been on the shelf now for more than a year. Nonetheless, the album is scheduled to be released this fall, just before the beginning of the upcoming NBA season.

Just don’t ask him what the title of the album is.

“He’s changed it about four or five times,” Moy said. “I don’t know what he’s going to go with. He went from a single to a triple and now it’s a double CD. He’s got so much music he can’t make up his mind.”

Whatever the title, expect about 25 cuts filled with insight from his life growing up in Carbondale and his time spent in the league, along with raps covering themes ranging from violence to politics to romance.

With such a demanding schedule and additional dreams to conquer, Hudson has remained down to earth and continues to be a role model for all who showed up to his tournament Saturday afternoon and many more.

“He’s a great guy. Very humble, very down to earth, very loving and very generous. He’s the best,” Moy said. “He is an all around person on and off the court. Obviously his game is the bomb, but he is a God fearing man, he loves his family and he loves Carbondale.”

Cairo High School basketball head coach Larry Baldwin, who was present at the tournament, knows exactly what Hudson means to children in the area.

“He’s a great influence on the Southern Illinois community and a tremendous inspiration. He’s a small guy who is doing big things,” said Baldwin, who had teams entered in each age category for Saturday’s tournament. “Kids can learn from him that if you make the right decisions and do the right things and work hard at what you do, who knows what you can accomplish.

“He’s a miracle kid.”

Reporter Adam Soebbing can be reached at [email protected]

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