New Jersey wing impressive

Growing up in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, has its advantages. If you're a beach bum, Mayaguez is a surfer's paradise. It has some of the best fishing in the world.<BR> If you are a high school basketball player and that's your passion, the opportunities are limited.<BR> And that is exactly why Alex Galindo left his family and came to the States.

Alex Galindo
6-6 wing forward
Newark (St. Benedict Prep), NJ

Galindo came to St. Benedict Prep last September to play basketball and earn a college scholarship.

In his first season as a junior at St. Benedict, Galindo often found himself playing behind 6-5 J. R. Smith. Smith, who is rated the No. 2 SG on Top 50 and No. 14 overall player, had already established his reputation long before Galindo arrived. However, as the season progressed, it became apparent to St. Benedict head coach Dan Hurley that it was in his best interests to play the two together.

"Right now J.R. (Smith) is ahead of Alex (Galindo) in his development as a player," Hurley said. "J.R. is such a tremendous athlete and playing the two together has been good for us. Alex has learned a lot from J.R."

To many of the observers at the recent ABCD Camp in Teaneck, NJ, Galindo has elevated his game to elite-level status and might be a better prospect than Smith.

Smith has Louisville, UConn, Duke, Maryland, North Carolina and Villanova on his list of schools, but his play at the ABCD Camp created questions about his decision making and his attitude.

Galindo, on the other hand, seems to be content to just play his game. He's not concerned about when or what position he plays. He has versatility on the perimeter and simply wants to be on the court helping his team.

"I play where the coaches tell me to play," Galindo said. "If they need me to play center, I'll play center. I don't care. I just want to play."

His high school coach agrees.

"Alex is very versatile," Hurley said. "He is a very good ball-handler. He plays some point for us and we have him bring the ball up against pressure (defenses). He makes good decisions and doesn't turn the ball over."

Galindo's father is the Recreation Director in Mayaquez, and Alex grew up within walking distance of a gymnasium. He spent a lot of time in that gym.

"In Puerto Rico, I have a basketball court just a couple of blocks from my home and I go there and play all the time." Galindo said. "That's the thing that I like most, playing basketball. I used to go three times a day to the gym."

Galindo has the offensive skills to play immediately at the college level, but needs to work on his defense. He's long and has all the physical tools to be a good defender, but he hasn't concentrated on that part of his game.

"My strength is I shoot the ball well," Galindo said. "I can shoot from the outside or I can drive. I'm quick and I can score driving to the basket. I pass the ball well and I can play multiple positions. I am a good rebounder. I led our team in rebounding last year."

Now that Galindo is making a name for himself on the summer camp circuit, his list of schools has grown. North Carolina State, Villanova, Rutgers, St. John's and UConn have been recruiting him the longest. Arizona is the latest to come calling. "I'm impressed," Galindo said of Arizona's recent interest. "I didn't know that a school like that was going to be recruiting me. I think I started getting the attention during the high school season because I had a couple of MVPs so now other schools are interested."

Galindo has spent all of his time on the East Coast, but the intrigue of the West has him curious. Tucson's proximity to Mexico and its large Hispanic community might also be a plus in the Wildcat quest to lure Galindo to the Southwest.

"I'm used to the East Coast," Galindo said. "But I like warm weather because Puerto Rico is warm. (The Spanish speaking community) would make me feel like I'm at home, so that is better."

Like most high school players being recruited by the high majors, Galindo would love to eventually play in the NBA.

"Every player wants to play in the NBA," he said. "But my main goal is to get my college degree. Then if I can go to the NBA, I go."

Galindo knows the value of an education.

"I want to go to a school that gives me the most," Galindo said. "Right now I always have the desire to be a veterinarian, a doctor of animals. But now I don't know what I'm going to do, because most of the schools don't have that as a degree."

Advantage Arizona?

The UA offers a Veterinary Medicine degree. However, will that, along with Tucson's large Hispanic community, be enough to lure Galindo to the Old Pueblo?

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