Q&A With Miami Commit Vince Legarza

The Miami RedHawks landed their second basketball commitment of the 2008 class. San Francisco big man Vince Legarza rebuffed several four year scholarship offers and accepted Miami's offer of a one year walk-on, followed by three years of scholarship. Legarza spoke at length about his decision, growing up with a coach for a father, and being a YouTube.com celebrity.

Despite having no more scholarships to give, the Miami RedHawks landed their second basketball commitment of the 2008 class. San Francisco big man Vince Legarza rebuffed several four year scholarship offers and accepted Miami's offer of a one year walk-on, followed by three years of scholarship. That gives Miami quite a formidable young front court with other 2008 commit Julian Mavunga, and true freshman Dwight McCombs also in the fold. Legarza spoke at length about his decision, growing up with a coach for a father, and being a YouTube.com celebrity.

Is it true that you made a commitment this week?
Yes. I committed on Tuesday to Miami of Ohio.

What schools did you have 4 year scholarship offers from?
University of Pacific, Montana State, Layola-Chicago, and a few other schools in southern California.

Was it difficult deciding to go to a school where you had to walk on for a year?
I'm in a good situation where my parents are capable of paying for a year of college. My dad just told me to pick the school you like the most, and the place you are most comfortable at. My mom wants me to get my masters degree, so I will probably be there for 5 years anyways. The scholarship thing wasn't a big deal for me. They told me they will were still looking for me to come in and play.

Why Miami? You're from California. Why a school in Ohio?
I've lived my entire life in San Francisco. I really like to travel. I've been to the Midwest a couple of times. My best friend's family and I go to a little town in Michigan every summer. I really like to Midwest. I wanted to go to college in a different part of the country. I also wanted to go to a school with a traditional college town; there are not many schools like that out here in California. I thought if I wanted to go a school with a college town, the Midwest was my best choice.

What other things did you see on your visit that made you believe Miami was the place you wanted to be?
The coaches. Out of all the visits I took, the Miami coaches showed the most interest, and they were the most organized. They set up meetings with teachers so I could understand how class works . They had me look at all the different parts of the campus. Also, the guys on the team were all really great guys. Also, the way they play fits really well with the way I play, so it won't be a hard transition for me to adapt to their style of play.

How do you play? What do you think are your strengths and weaknesses as a basketball player?
I'm a strong kid, but I'm not super, super athletic. My dad was a college coach for 22 years, so the fundamentals have been forced into me. I know they really like big men who can shoot the three, and I can shoot it from the outside. My strengths are my passing, my strength, and my shooting ability, and it seemed like those were 3 of the things they really like out of their big guys.

You mention your dad was a college coach. What was it like growing up having a father who made a living coaching basketball?
It was awesome for me. He was an assistant coach in division one, and then he became the head coach at a junior college out here in California. When I was a kid I used to always go to practices, watch his guys, and picking up things. In third grade I saw one guy shoot a jump hook, and I kept on practicing it, and since then the jump hook has been my go to move. Then in the summer time, he ran basketball camps, and because my mom was working all the time, I started going to camps when I was 3 years old. The nice thing is, he could care less if I played basketball. It's not like I have to play. But he has always been there to help if I ask for it, always showing me new things. But I've always been in a gym, I've been around basketball my whole life. I've picked up a lot from being around him and watching him.

You've talked about having a good jump hook, and a good outside shot. Obviously, that is the sign of a versatile offensive player. Where are you most comfortable?
Definitely on the block, that's where coaches tend to put me. But I'm pretty comfortable anywhere on the court. From the three point line, I'm more of a set shooter, I'm not going to create or rise over guys to shoot a three, but if I'm open for a second, I'm pretty good at set threes.

Have the Miami coaches given you an idea of where you would fit in their system. Have they told you about any specific player you would replace?
They said I would be the second coming of Monty St. Clair. He was a big guy, good shooter, good passer, and wasn't super athletic, like myself. They said I would be a good replacement for him.

Miami does have one scholarship players coming in next year, Julian Mavunga. Have the coaches talked about how the two of you will mesh on the floor?
They did. They said we would work well together. They like the way we both score inside. They were saying that Julian reminded them of Tim Pollitz. They said that Monty St. Clair and Tim Pollitz really worked well together, and they thought they we will work well together. I've never seen him play, and I don't think he's ever seen me play, but they think we will work well together.

In your last year of high school, what do you want to work on to get yourself for college ball?
I'm really looking forward to high school season this year. Last year we had a great season, made it to the NorCal semi game. We won 28 games. We also had six seniors. I wasn't a leader last year, but this year I'm a captain, and I'm really looking forward to that. As far as our season games, I'm trying to get us to the state championship. But I think I need to work on my conditioning, and getting stronger. I'm pretty strong, but I know it's a whole new level in Division 1. That's a big thing at Miami, all their guys go hard all the time.

You've become something of a YouTube.com celebrity with your half court shot last year. Just out of curiosity, what is it like having that video floating around the internet, and the notoriety that might be coming from it?
Two days before that shot my grandfather died, and so I was telling all my buddies before that something great is going to happen. And I was able to get my grandfather's name in the paper, which brought a lot of joy to my family. And it's great because I've been able to show a lot of people on YouTube. Some of the team managers (at Miami) were telling me how they saw my shot. It was pretty funny to me, because to me it just helped us win the game, but I have become a little bit of a celebrity because of it.


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