When Bodie Hume made the decision to go to the University of Northern Colorado to extend his hoops career, it was obvious he was going to have a huge role from year one. The former 3A player of the year out of Sterling, Colorado was expected to produce and the “freshman” excuse wouldn’t hold water with UNC Head Coach, Jeff Linder. If the Bears wanted to be a contender in the 2018/19 season, they’d need immediate production from Hume to compliment Bears superstar, Jordan Davis and defensive juggernaut, Jonah Radebaugh. Hume didn’t disappoint. Even though UNC lost in the first round of the Big Sky Conference tournament, they managed to win 21 games, finish second in the Big Sky regular season standings and produced an astonishing 10-3 record at home. Bodie was named the Big Sky Freshman of the year, averaging nearly 11 points, 4 rebounds and a block per game. The future looked bright for the Bears.
Fast forward to this strange 2020 year, or what feels like a decade, and Hume is the clear leader and most valuable player on the Bears roster. A few things have changed since his freshman year, however. His head coach took the Wyoming head coaching job, leaving top assistant, Steve Smiley, as the heir apparent. The last two years saw a couple of Bears greats, Davis and Radebaugh, graduate and extend their playing careers overseas. And of course, 2020, the Covid-19 year, claimed the NCAA tournament and most of the conference tournaments back in March. The Pandemic cost the Bears a shot at winning the Big Sky tournament and punching a ticket to March Madness. Sure, it would have been a tall task. They would have had to get past regular season champs, Eastern Washington, a team that beaten them twice in the regular season. So, however likely or unlikely it might have been for UNC to go dancing for the first time, first legitimate time, the point is they, like the rest of the league, didn’t get the opportunity. Hume sees all of it, new coach, new role, pre-season polls and a lost season as motivation.
“Absolutely,” Hume answered when asked on The Hull Show if the sudden halt last season motivated him. “I think that, along with some other things with how the season’s shaping up in the preseason polls, we have a lot we are excited to show and excited to achieve.” The Bears were picked to finish 5th in the Big Sky coaches pre season poll and 3rd in the media poll. Hume was named to the Big Sky Preseason All-Conference Team but Eastern Washington standout, Jacob Davison was picked as the favorite to win the conference MVP. Hume doesn’t take the individual award as personally as he does the team rankings.
“Right now, I take it personally that we need to show that we are the best team in the league,” Hume told us, “and that’s all I’m really worried about right now.”
A lot will be on Hume’s shoulders this season. Year after year the Bears have seen a star player graduate, only to replace him with another. Hume was 1 of 2 star players for UNC a season ago, pairing nicely with the conference’s defensive player of the year, Radebaugh. So for Hume, it’s not necessarily a new thing to be a team leader but without Radebaugh, much more will be placed on the Junior’s plate.
“I had to step into a leader role last year with Jonah,” Hume said. “Thankfully he helped me out quite a bit last year. I just have to show the team how it’s done right and that’s what we’re going with.”
Sure, a player will likely emerge as the Robin to Hume’s Batman but heading in, there’s a lot of pressure to be the best. If not from Hume, the rest of the league. It’s confusing to me why the Bears finished so low in the preseason polls. Sure, they have a new coach and are without their top scorer and defender from a year ago but to finish 5th in the coaches poll has to feel like a slap in the face to a team that’s been in the thick of things for the past 3 seasons. One has to wonder how Hume, among others, wouldn’t use that as motivation. Bodie certainly sounds like a player that is highly motivated to prove the polls wrong but to do that, he’ll need the absolute best from what looks to be a deep roster.
“This year we got some guys that bring a lot of energy to practice and we talk a lot,” Hume reflected on his teammates. “I think we’ve done a really good job of adapting….we are a very close team.”
Every year, Bodie has become a better player so to say 2020/21 should feature an even better version is an understatement. He went from 3A player of the year to Big Sky Freshman of the year to second team all Big Sky. As he steps into his Junior year, I can only imagine BIGGER achievements are on his mind. Andre Speight, Jordan Davis, Jonah Radebaugh and now, Bodie Hume. Could the standout athlete from the little town of Sterling be the next superstar for the Bears? Could this be the year we see a trip to the Big Dance? Could Hume be one of if not the best player to ever wear a Bears uniform? While the pre-season polls seem to have low expectations, radio hosts like me expect nothing less than a #1 spot in the conference and a league MVP. It’s time for the rest of the league and the state to recognize the University of Northern Colorado as a great team. That won’t happen until the Bears take the floor. It all starts on November 27th.