Tanner Rubio: ‘The small guy who shoots a lot of threes’

Hannah Murray

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.— In the sport of basketball, it is integral to not only have an understanding of the sport, but to be a cohesive teammate willing to make sacrifices.

Fortunately for Jacksonville University, Tanner Rubio serves as a point-guard for the men’s basketball team.

For Rubio, a junior, the game became a part of his life at an early age.

“It all started when my first word was ‘ball,’” Rubio says, “and my dad said, ‘Yes! Let’s give him a basketball!’ So, my dad got me a Little Tikes hoop and at three years old, I was dribbling a basketball.”

With such a young start, it’s not hard to see how Rubio has made a reputation as a competent shooter.

“He shoots deep threes,” Jace Hogan, Rubio’s teammate, says. “It’s kind of crazy. They’re almost like five-pointers, with how deep he shoots.”

His coach, Tony Jasick, says that although Rubio might be underestimated upon first sight, Rubio’s skill still shines through.

“I think he’s a fan-favorite, partly because he’s the small guy who shoots a lot of threes,” Jasick says. “I think people down here really like him. I think the campus really likes him and they enjoy it when he’s making threes from all over the floor. I think that is part of his appeal to our student body.”

Rubio says he doesn’t mind sticking out on the court. For him, his appearance is something he wears proudly on his sleeve.

“I don’t think it’s any secret that I don’t exactly match the profile of a Division 1 basketball player,” Rubio says. “I just like to prove people wrong sometimes. I may not fit the profile, but I show out whenever I can.”

And while Rubio is proud he is able to give something to the game of basketball, he says the game has given something back to him.

“Basketball has always been there,” he says. “I’ve always used it as therapy whenever I’m facing a struggle in my life. I’ll just go to the gym— me, myself, a ball, and a hoop— and I’ll just shoot for hours. It’s basically a way of training my mind to forget about all those things bothering me in my life.”

To his teammates, Rubio is a selfless individual who often puts his team first. According to Hogan, Rubio has proven himself to be a sufficient leader.

“Multiple times in games, when I’m missing shots and getting down on myself, he’ll pull us in or huddle us up and tell us to keep shooting,” Hogan says. “Things like that always help, to have someone believe in you even when things aren’t necessarily going your way. If we get down, he helps rally us together and keeps the confidence up.”

Rubio says that he always tries to keep a level head during games, since you never know who might need some encouragement.

“If you make a mistake, someone’s going to yell at you,” Rubio says. “Whether it’s a coach or a fan, that can get to you mentally as a player. When I’m on the court, I like to keep a straight mind. So, when I see a teammate get yelled at by a coach and you can tell that their mind is out of it, I like to pull them aside and tell them a joke or make them laugh.”

Sprouting words of encouragement isn’t the only way Rubio rallies his troops.

According to Coach Jasick, on multiple occasions, Rubio has taken home teammates who couldn’t go to their own homes for the holidays.

“I had a teammate who didn’t get to go home for spring break one year,” Rubio says. “So, I took him home with me. And then another teammate of mine is from England and he couldn’t afford to go home, so I told him, ‘Dude, just come home and spend Christmas with me.’ And I took him home for a couple of days. He got to meet all of my Hispanic family. It was a really fun time.”

At the end of the day, Rubio says that basketball has helped him to become the person he is today.

“Basketball has taught me a lot of life lessons,” Rubio says. “Things are never going to go the way you planned and things aren’t always going to go the way you want. So, it’s taught me to be patient in my life.”