Bulls Get a Passionate Competitor in Belardo

When Scout.com reported the commitment of guard Gaby Belardo to play for USF Monday, little was known of the journey of the 6'2-187 pound guard. Read on for all the details. Only on USFNation.com

When guard Gaby Belardo committed to play for USF, the roller coaster ride of a journey that was the recruitment of the 6'2-187 pound guard, finally came to a close.

The native of Puerto Rico first played for nationally ranked Montverde Academy in Florida as a sophomore until his junior year, and helped lead the Eagles to a perfect 30-0 record and a USAHoops national championship, after averaging 11 points, 4.2 assists, and 3.4 steals per game as a junior. As a sophomore he averaged 6 pts and 6.4 assists per game.

"USF is getting a great player in Belardo," said Kevin Sutton his coach at Montverde. "He plays hard, really enjoys the game of basketball, he's a streaky shooter that can make things happen."

Belardo then transferred last season to Notre Dame Prep as a highly-touted shooter, before an ankle injury caused him to miss a good portion of the season and fall behind in the rotation.

"For the first week and a half of school he was probably our premier wing player," said Notre Dame Prep coach Ryan Hurd. "Then the ankle injury happened."

Once Belardo got healthy it wasn't until early February at the National Prep School Invitational, where he shot 6-of-7 from the 3-point line against the Patterson School when he started to get noticed again. However, it wasn't until a breakout performance with his team, the Miami Tropics at the Kingwood Invitational last month, when his recruitment really picked up.

"It's been unbelievable, there had to have been 30 or 40 schools that called on him after the tournament," said Hurd. "I'm really proud of him. It's really his patience being rewarded."

Belardo was also coached for three years by Art Alvarez of the Miami Tropics, who coached Belardo since he was 16, and probably knows Gaby the best.

"Gaby is a special player that brings experience with him,' said Alvarez. "He's a hard nosed kid that is very hard to defend. He's a scorer, very good off the bounce, and can take people off the dribble and score. He can also defend and is the total package."

Last season the Bulls shot less then 30 percent from the field and Belardo who can play either guard spot can hit from anywhere including downtown.

"One thing that coach Heat really liked about him was his ability to really shoot the ball, especially from 3-point range."

It was playing for the Miami Tropics on the Nike circuit where Belardo scored over 30 points over ten times, and also played alongside players like O.J. Mayo where Belardo's game was really noticed by college recruiters including Coach Heath.

"This past spring Gaby played against some of the best guards out there," said Alvarez. "He averaged over 22 points a game and about 6 assists, 4 rebound per game, and it really took off from there."

After the spring Belardo had over a dozen offers, and chose the Bulls over Hofstra, UCF, FIU, Duquesne and Virginia Commonwealth among others.

"It was a battle between South Florida and the other schools recruiting him, but now he's a Bull, and my hat goes off to coach Heath and his staff for getting this done."

Besides coaching Belardo, Art Alvarez also coached USF guard Jesus Verdejo who also played for the Miami Tropics.

"He's always looked up to Jesus, who has done well with the Bulls, and that was very instrumental in him going to USF," said Alvarez.

Belardo is only seventeen years old and has tons of upside, something that Coach Heath likes, but Gaby also is a passionate competitor.

"He loves to play, and loves to win," said Alvarez. "He's very competitive, and when he loses, I've seen him cry, and get on his teammates for not giving 100 percent effort. He's a born leader, very vocal, and plays with a chip on his shoulder. A kid that has a lot of fire is a great asset to have on a team."

For more insight, talk about it on the USFNation.com  Message Boards

USFNation.com - Get it First, Get it Fast!

Bulls Daily Top Stories