Arizona Guard Transferring to Miami

Arizona shooting guard, Jesus Verdejo, who starred at Miami Christian in 2002 and 2003 averaging over 24 points a game, has decided to transfer to the University of Miami effective December 14 according to his former high school coach Art "Pilin" Alvarez.

The former 1st team Florida All-State basketball player is coming back home and Hurricane fans are surely going to be smiling because of it.

After seeing limited action as a freshman behind former Wildcats star Salim Stoudemire, Jesus Verdejo was expected to be a key cog in the eight-man rotation, but had not played in the team's first five games.

But it wasn't because Lute Olson benched him. He simply wanted to come back home. By transferring effective December 14, Verdejo will practice with the Hurricanes basketball team this year, but will have to sit out until December 14, 2006. He will be eligible to play for three years at UM after sitting out per NCAA transfer rules.

As a junior, Verdejo, along with Northeastern star Jose Juan Barea and Hofstra guard Carlos Rivera, helped lead the Victors to the 2002 Class A State Championship, the school's second title in three years. He averaged 20.6 points per game while earning 1st Team All-Dade and 2nd Team All-State honors.

As a senior, Verdejo averaged 28 points per game while earning 1st Team All-Dade and 1st Team All-State honors, but because of FHSAA sanctions, the Victors were not able to defend their state title, although they opened the season ranked second in the nation by USA Today.

That year, Verdejo played alongside current UM star shooting guard, Guillermo Diaz.

Verdejo will become the third member of Alvarez's basketball programs, Miami Christian School and the Miami Tropics travel team, to play at the University of Miami under coach Frank Haith, joining Diaz and Denis Clemente.

"This was in no means Arizona not wanting Verdejo," Alvarez said. "They really did not want him to leave. He was going to get plenty of playing time, but he felt that it would be in his best interest to leave.

"It was a tough decision that he, his parents and I came to."

Verdejo is a 6-foot-4, 195 pound shooting guard, who will provide the ‘Canes something they sorely lack, a true prototype shooting guard in shooting ability and size.

The ‘Canes will certainly benefit from the type of player Verdejo is offensively. He's a very good outside shooter, with a phenomenal midrange game, can attack the basket and create his own shot. And he will give Miami the ability to guard bigger guards, something the team currently lacks with freshman Brian Asbury being the only guard on the team that is over 6-foot-2.

With Robert Hite in his senior year and Diaz expected to declare for the NBA Draft following this season, the addition of Verdejo is huge and will give Miami a lot of depth at guard. The ‘Canes are expected to have point guards Anthony Harris and Clemente along with Sienna transfer Jack McClinton who is currently sitting out this year and Asbury. 2006 recruit James Dews, a shooting guard from Ohio will also be on the team.

Verdejo is an extremely athletic player, a marshal arts expert, and the type of player that will bring Miami added toughness and a physical presence in the backcourt.

"He did real well in summer and fall workouts at Arizona, but he missed Miami," Alvarez said. "He could have really gone anywhere, but I really appreciate the job coach Haith has done with the kids from my program. The choice was easy and coach is thrilled to have him."

Verdejo, who is a native of Carolina, Puerto Rico, came to the states his junior year, and proceeded to lead the Victors to the best ever season by a team in the state of Florida as the Victors finished the year in 2002 ranked No. 9 in the nation with a 38-2 record. The 38 wins remain the most in Florida history and will never be broken as the state has since limited teams to a maximum 25 regular season games.

He finished his career as the top scorer in school history at Miami Christian with 2,152 points in just two seasons and won countless awards while leading the Victors, including being named the MVP of the nationally acclaimed Kingdom of the Sun tournament in Ocala, Florida, as a junior.

Verdejo was a top recruit in the nation as a senior and initially signed with legendary coach John Cheaney at Temple, but after failing to qualify, he decided to prep at The Winchendon School in the Boston area where he averaged almost 23 points per game while leading Winchendon to a 32-5 record.

After prepping at The Winchendon School, he decided to sign with Arizona.

Besides ‘Canes fans, there is one person who is beyond thrilled to have another one of his former players playing college ball locally.

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited," Alvarez said. "I am going to have one of my former players going to the NBA and another one coming to Miami. I couldn't be happier

Rudy Rodriguez-Chomat is a Staff Writer with CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at

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