First-year center Jacob Hutson didn’t expect to go to March Madness in his first year at Loyola. He didn’t expect to cut down the nets both as a Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) regular season champion and a tournament champion. Hutson didn’t even expect to play this season.
But he did, and he led the team to a quarterfinal win against Southern Illinois University at Arch Madness.
The 18-year-old walk-on planned on redshirting to have a full four years of eligibility starting in the 2021-22 season. When the NCAA announced everyone got an extra year of eligibility, Hutson realized he could play this year without sacrificing his plan of four additional years of being on the roster.
“Right before our [University of] Richmond game, Richmond was ranked 25th,” Hutson said. “Coach [Porter Moser] told me you’re immediately eligible and it was kind of just a shock to me cause, like, we had been waiting for that for around a month.”
Hutson didn’t play in the Richmond game, but he did play in the Ramblers’ next game against NAIA University of St. Francis. In his first collegiate game, he played 20 minutes and scored 15 points.
The Edina, Minn. native played in more games as the season went on, but typically only stepped on the court when Loyola had a sizable lead against a team — until Loyola played Southern Illinois Feb. 16.
Senior center Cameron Krutwig was taken out of the game due to cramps early in the second half. Enter Hutson, who in his first two minutes of the game grabbed a rebound and scored.
Hutson’s role on the team became clearer as he continued to play more minutes for the Ramblers. He would serve as a stand-in for Krutwig when the MVC Player of the Year needed a breather.
One of these moments allowed Hutson to show everyone what he could accomplish. In the quarterfinal round of Arch Madness, the 6-foot-10 first-year finished with 13 points in nearly 15 minutes of action — both career-highs against a Division I opponent. Hutson entered the game with just 17 points in 43 total minutes against Division I opponents this year.
“I’m super proud of him, I know we all are,” Krutwig said following the game. “He came in and he played hard. … People don’t realize how big he is. We call him Big Hutty for a reason… I know I experienced what he’s experiencing right now as a freshman so that’s something we relate to.”
Big Hutty, as his teammates and fans refer to him, has been working with Kruwtig since the moment he stepped onto Loyola’s campus and finished his quarantine. Before he was eligible, he spent a lot of time on the scout team simply guarding Krutwig.
Even after transitioning to full eligibility, Hutson continued learning from Krutwig. Both Hutson and Krutwig joked about Hutson’s ability to block the seniors shots. In fact, Hutson said that’s a huge part of why he came to Loyola. When he filled in for Krutwig for the first time, he knew he was prepared to step into the role.
“I guard Krut every single day in practice,” Hutson said. “I got in the game and didn’t want to mess up defensively, so that really prepared me for the games. Cause I mean, in most games I’m not going to play anyone better than Krutwig.”
A self-proclaimed “family man,” Hutson said it’s been great to have his family around for the journey. His sister, Emma, is a senior at Loyola and his parents have attended a handful of Loyola games.
His family even plans on making the trip to Indianapolis for March Madness where Loyola will play Georgia Institute of Technology at Hinkle Fieldhouse — an arena that holds a lot of value to the Hutson family.
Both of Hutson’s parents played sports at Butler University — his mom played volleyball and his dad, Mike, played football. Hutson’s uncle also played basketball for the Bulldogs, making many appearances in Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Mike Hutson said Hutson is typically more of an introvert, so it’s been exciting to see him open up on the court and sidelines. He said the court is like “a sanctuary” for Hutson, a place where he is completely comfortable.
Mike said one of his favorite pictures of all time was from the MVC championship game between Drake University and Loyola March 7. The Ramblers made three consecutive baskets on fast breaks and forced a Drake timeout, sending the Rambler players on the bench into an excited frenzy.
“The expression on Jacob’s face is just pure joy,” Mike said. “That’s the difference. When you’re in your comfort zone — which he is when he plays — that’s Jacob.”
As far as Big Hutty’s own excitement, he said he’s happy to be a part of the success the team is having, no matter how big or small the role.
Hutson “didn’t expect” to go to March Madness as a first-year but isn’t surprised with how much work the team has put in. He said winning a championship is always something he wanted to do and knew the team had the potential.
He said cutting down the nets has been his favorite moment so far.
“We have been working for that so long,” Hutson said. “To like finally cut down those nets. It’s just a great feeling. It’s just, everyone’s happy, you know, everyone’s cheering. So it’s great.”