IOWA CITY, Iowa - Adam Haluska is thriving.
The former all-Big Ten guard at Iowa, the league’s leading scorer in 2006-07, is 38, married and the father of four children between the ages of 2 and 13. He’s a successful financial advisor in Coralville and is also vice president of the board of education in Solon.
“When we knew we were going to land in Eastern Iowa, we had a ton of people who said we had to check out Solon,” Haluska said. “Great schools, good people, close to the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids corridor. And when we landed, we didn’t know how good we had it until our kids started going through the school district. All the things going on with education, all the opportunities with the fine arts and athletics. It’s a small town but there’s really a lot of big things happening.”
There was a time in his life when Haluska thought his professional career might dribble down a different path. But fate has a way taking us down different roads.
Just like many players looking forward to Thursday’s NBA Draft, Haluska was in their shoes in June of 2007. He averaged 20.5 points as a senior, but most mock drafts didn’t have him among the 60 players projected to go in the two-round affair. He did work out for New Orleans four days before the draft.
Haluska was enjoying the evening with his family in Carroll, hardly paying attention to the draft. The Haluskas went inside around 10:30 p.m., turned on the TV and watched draft coverage. A few minutes later, Adam went to New Orleans in the second round, the 43rd player selected. He was the first Iowa player selected since J.R. Koch was taken by the New York Knicks in the second round in 1999.
Adam went on to play in four preseason games for New Orleans before getting traded to Houston. He was eventually released.
“It was more of a financial kind of trade,” Haluska said. “They were trying to get rid of some salary space.”
Adam ended up in Des Moines, playing for the Iowa Energy in the D-League in 2008. He weighed some opportunities to play overseas, but Kendra was pregnant with their first child and they wanted to stay closer to home.
A daughter, Jerzey, was born in the summer of 2008, then Adam signed a deal to play the 2008-09 season for Hapoel Jersalem in the Israeli League. But Haluska’s health didn’t cooperate.
He broke a foot, then had to have surgery for two different sports hernias. That, and being away from family for a year, led to another change of plans.
“If you’re living overseas, it can be a great living and you can have a great career,” said Haluska, pointing to former Iowa teammate Greg Brunner as an example. “We loved it, but that was a year without seeing our families in person.”
Adam and Kendra went to Israel with a plan to stay there for five years, save as much money as possible and then come home.
“But at the end of the day I knew, “Hey, if I want to start a business or work on my career, I've got to get started at some point,’ ” Haluska said. “Might as well start when the kids are young and not five years later.”
Adam, who had been named the Academic All-American of the Year in 2007 when he had a 3.5 grade-point average in finance and marketing, got his licenses to become a financial advisor.
But Haluska was healthy again, and the desire to give professional basketball one more shot still burned inside. Adam signed a free-agent deal with Dallas and went to training camp with the team in the fall of 2009.
“When I was there I had a couple of really good preseason games and I was playing well in practice,” said Haluska, a 6-foot-5 guard who scored 1,578 points in his three seasons at Iowa. “The guys in the front office were telling me, “You’ve just got to wait your turn. At some point the guys ahead of you are going to have a night off. They’re going to have back pain or something and you’re going to get your time. When that happened, I was out three months with an ankle injury. It takes a little bit of luck.”
Haluska knew the odds of making the NBA became greater with each passing season.
“Once you’re on the outside looking in, it’s so hard to get in,” Haluska said. “There are so many great players out there. It’s crazy. It’s a hard club to be a part of.”
With basketball dreams over, the Haluskas moved to Solon and Adam invested himself into his new profession. And as the family grew, Haluska added more to his plate.
“Having young kids in the district and a family that was in education, I kind of got nudged by a few people in the district to put my name into the hat for school board,” said Adam, whose father, Steve and uncle, Mike, were school administrators.
Haluska is now the board’s vice president, a demanding position in today’s world.
“It is a tough job, especially with COVID and everything else that’s happened,” Adam said. “There’s a lot of polarizing things out there. But at the forefront, kids are the most important thing. And you’ve got to make sure you have top quality teachers. We keep and retain the best, and that’s hard to do here in the corridor where other districts can maybe pay or offer a little more. But it’s a good place. And when you know it’s home you want to invest in it and do your part.”