More than one person has asked me that question recently. Although Tubbs seems to have gotten buried deep down the bench, the short answer apparently is that his status has not changed much.
Many fans remember Justin as one of the better defenders on last year's team who could score points in bunches when his shot was "on." We also remember his having hit huge three point shots under pressure to help Bama win at least two games. Although we tend to remember his major contributions, Tubbs averaged less than ten minutes per game according to the official statistics. He averaged fewer than four points per game with a season high of 13. None of this is intended to diminish Tubbs' contributions, merely to place them into perspective. The fans still remember his energetic play and clutch shooting when the game was on the line.
This season Justin has played an average of more than 14 minutes per game, but he played only 4 minutes against George Washington University last night and only one minute against Iowa State. Perhaps that has created a temporary perception that Tubbs has been lost. Perhaps it suggests a trend. Perhaps Tubbs has not been well. Or perhaps it is evidence that this team is getting better as its component parts improve and learn better how to work together.
Based solely on my observations and not on any "inside" information, I think Torrance, Pickett, Hollinger and Hillman are what have "happened to" Tubbs, but none of that is bad. Pickett seems to have established himself as the primary point guard. Torrance follows closely on his heels, allowing Brandon Hollinger to play at the two guard position. CMG seems to like having Hollinger there because he helps calm Pickett, his ball handling helps attack the press, he understands the game and knows how to feed the post, and he finally feels at liberty to take his shot when he is open. Torrance needs to play unless he is having a terrible night and Hollinger has become an unexpected advantage in what promises to be a challenging season.
I have not researched whether Hillman or Tubbs has been playing more recently. If one is playing more than the other I suspect it would have to do with how they are performing on any particular night. Each defends well, brings energy to the court and provides an offensive option when his shot is on. Fortunately for them and for the team both of them have been playing and contributing to this point. I hope that continues.
What have we settled to this point about what "happened to Tubbs?" Probably not much. What should we think or expect regarding Justin for the rest of the season and for the next two years? I do not know but I expect he will continue to improve as a player and to contribute to the teams success in any way he can. That is the sort of approach I would expect from a young man who was a Freshman Academic All SEC and who shared the 2007 “Hustle Award” for daily effort.
What happened to Justin Tubbs? Hard work and the future is bright, both for Justin and for the team that is growing so crowded with disciplined talent that Justin is having a hard time earning playing time.