My 0 To Hero Basketball Career – From Underrated to Overseas

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Augie’s First Team

My Youth Basketball Days – Ages 8 – 11

I started playing basketball when I was 8 years old. That was the first time I played on an organized team. I was always one of the faster kids back then, but I wasn’t the best player on the team or anything. Unlike a lot of kids I wasn’t overdeveloped for my age, but I played hard and often. I played soccer, basketball, and when I got a little older I played football too, but basketball was always my favorite.As I got older I played basketball with my friends more and more.

We would all meet to walk to the bus together at my neighbors house before school every morning. He had a hoop where you could lower the rim. We would run, jump and see who could hang on the rim. I remember straining my wrist muscles all the time back then. Every recess basketball was our game of choice. After school we would play at my friends house again and there were 4 of us then and we were all pretty equal in age, skill, size, and strength so we were super competitive with each other.I continued to play in summer and winter rec leagues until I finally reached junior high school.

Junior High School Basketball – Ages 12 & 13

In the U.S. this is the point in a child’s athletics career where not everyone is allowed to play.  You must try out and make the team. I made the 7th grade team and felt like I was one of the better players but I saw very, very limited playing time (around 10 minutes a game). I was a little discouraged and started to doubt myself some, but I played and trained waaay more than anyone else on the team and I knew that it wasn’t all for nothing and that I was better than what that coach saw and thought of me. That summer a couple times a week I would walk over to the outside courts near my house and shoot around, practice left hand layups, and left hand dribbling. It was nothing too serious, but it gave me a little bit of an edge over my competition.

The next year (age 13) I tried out for the 8th grade team. I made the team and my coach during tryouts made it point to tell everyone that I was the first person he decided to put on the team because of how hard I played and how physical. Like I said earlier, I was a competitive kid, and yes, I was one of those kids that would cry when I lost. That’s how bad I always wanted to win. So I made the team and came off the bench again. I got my first start when my teammate missed a game because he was sick. I remember that game like it was yesterday. We were playing Paulding Middle School in Arroyo Grande, CA. I scored the first 7 points of the game for my team and we won the game. It was funny though because I ended the game with only 7 points too, but after that I was a full time starter and my confidence and passion for the game took off. We ended up winning the league and had a great core of players that all loved basketball.

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Darroll and Augie in Junior High

Probably the most important thing in my basketball career happened next. About a month after season we got a new student at our school. His first day at school he jumped out of his mom’s truck the same time I got out of my mom’s van and I was looking down and saw his shoes. He had the newest Jordans on (Air Jordan XV’s, the ones with the tongue hanging out). I was like, “Hey, nice shoes man!” We talked a little about hoop and later on that day we played a little 2 on 2 with a couple other guys. The reason I said that all this was important for my career was that him and I became religious workout partners and 1 on 1 competitors to this very day. That summer we went to the local outdoor courts and met a man named Rob Gray. Rob was just a normal guy who loved basketball and went to all the varsity games. He basically took us under his wings and taught us how to improve and taught us what it takes. Before Rob our workouts would consist of playing horse and then a few games of 1 on 1.

Rob wasn’t some basketball genius, but he gave us structure and taught us a few drills such as:

  • Spot Up Shooting
  • 1 Dribble Pull Ups
  • Free Throw Competitions

I still remember a lot of the things he taught me and this is really when I began training for the game and working hard to improve. Rob basically opened the flood gates for my friend Darroll and I as we began inventing new drills and new ways to challenge ourselves.

Atascadero High School Boys Basketball – Ages 14 – 17

I was now going into high school and I was super excited. I had a good off season of training and playing club basketball. I saw that there are a lot of great players out there and it made me realize that I was actually pretty far behind in some aspects of my game. I thought I was quick…wrong, I thought I had good ball handling…wrong, and I thought I was a good defender…wrong. That’s what club basketball is for though, so I would say that it was a pretty successful endeavor.

Freshman Year Of High School

I made the freshman team and was the starting point guard. I prided myself on my passing and ball handling. We had a great season and won the league. I noticed that I was a much more intelligent player than many of my teammates when it came to understanding offensive schemes and strategies. That off season I got a fitness club membership. It was awesome. They had a full court outside, half court inside, and of course a really nice weight room. I continued to do shooting workouts, play 1 on 1, and 3 on 3 with my friends. We also started lifting weights some, but it was not consistent or organized.

Sophomore Year Of High School

Atascadero High School

We had such a good freshman season that going into our sophomore year my team and I were all very excited on dominating the JV league. We still had the core of our team all together and all played well together. Then everything changed. I never would of imagined of making the Varsity team as a sophomore, but it happened. I remember visiting my junior high school coach a week before tryouts. My friend Darroll never played for this coach because he moved to my hometown after season started. My coach was telling me that he heard Darroll might make the Varsity team and that he thought it was a terrible idea. Little did he know that just a day or two before the Varsity coach had asked my as well if I wanted to tryout for Varsity as well. I didn’t say anything to my Junior High coach, but I remember thinking how stupid and biased he sounded to me.

I ended up trying out and making the team. That was the first time that I realized that “Ok, maybe I’m a little better than I thought.” To be honest I was surprised that I made the team. Not only did I make the Varsity team, but so did three other players from my freshman team. So the core 4 players all moved up to Varsity plus the first freshman in school history. This was the youngest Varsity team the school had every had.

I spent the season playing very limited minutes. Darroll and another one of the young guys actually started and did pretty well, but our team was just sub-par. The same thing happened in the off season as I played a lot of basketball, got shots up, and spent a little time in the weight room, and I was improving, but I was still not consistent or organized.

Junior Year Of High School

This is when I had made up decision that I would become a “Real Baller.” I didn’t go out for football this year and wanted to put all of my focus into basketball. I finally became a starter and played the point. Everyone was excited to see what kind of season we would have with a starting lineup of all Juniors and one Sophomore. We finished 19-7, won the league championship, and then lost in the semi finals of the CIF southern section (playoffs). It was pretty devastating, but no one really thought we would win it all as Juniors anyways, and every win in playoffs was a bonus.

That off season I stepped up my training big time. I started working on my vertical leap, had a much more focused approach in the weight room, and did more shooting drills then the previous summer. I knew that I had to have a big Senior season if I wanted to play in college, and our team had some pretty high expectations.

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Senior Year Team

Senior Year Of High School

It was time. We won 17 games in a row to start the season and beat some big name teams. I was having a good season so far, but I really was being overshadowed by all the talent on our team. I was doing a good job securing wins for our team and had some big scoring games with 25 points, but also had 2 point games as well. Like I said I was a pass first point guard and I didn’t worry about scoring at all. I lead our team in assists per game and prided myself on that, and we were winning games so no complaints. Many people thought we would go undefeated, but we slipped up after a while and lost two games near the end of the regular season and finished 20-2 going into CIF playoffs ranked #1 in our CIF section and #7 in the state of California.

What happened next will haunt me for the rest of my life. The first game of playoffs we played Northwood. They were a low ranked team and they came to our gym. They couldn’t hang with us. We were up 17 in the 3rd quarter. Our leading scorer went up and dunked on someone on a fast break, landed, and broke his ankle. He was a warrior though and wanted to play through what he thought was a twisted ankle at the time. The other team noticed. They went on to isolate him for the rest of the 3rd quarter and his man went to work. 3’s, And 1’s, and all started pouring in as they cut the lead down to 3 with a 30 seconds left. I decided to pick up full court to use up some time and was able to deny their point guard the ball. He was smart though. It was almost a 5 second count on the inbound when he decided he would just grab my arms and fall down, whistle. He drew the foul and went to the line to shoot 1 and 1 where he made both. So now we are up 1, get fouled, miss the free throws, they get the rebound and call timeout with 2 seconds left in the game. The inbound the ball from the sideline, they pass the ball across the court to the short corner, and they hit the shot to win the game…

That was the most devastating loss I have ever been a part of. My teammates and I all cried in the locker room after the game. The next day Darroll and I went to the gym and lifted weights until we injured ourselves.

College Basketball – Ages 18-22

Freshman Year of College

After emailing, visiting, and calling many different universities I was told I would be able to walk on at an NCAA D2 school called California State University of Monterey Bay (CSUMB). I got there and there were about 20 other freshman in the program or trying out. The coach decided to make a Freshman only team that would play other Junior Colleges and other Freshman teams (which I pretty unheard of these days). I felt like I was good enough to be on the real team though like a couple of the other freshman that actually made the team, but I was a walk on and those guys had scholarships. I played on the freshman team and realized that in college I was not going to be playing point guard. They were too quick and I was growing taller and taller so I went into that off season with a new focus.

My roommate in college was as hard a worker as I was so we went to work. I wanted to become a great shooter. I was never known for my shooting ability so I had to make big strides if I wanted to move over to the shooting guard position. Our training was not very innovative at all and we were not exactly doing the best things to improve our shots, but one thing we did do was shoot…A LOT. It was like clock work. We shot 500 shots, and then went and hit the weights everyday, 7 days a week.

Sophomore Year of College

Before the season started I had a meeting with the coach. He said something really interesting to me. He told me that I was going to be on the real team this season. His reason for putting me on the team though wasn’t because I had improved, was good enough, or had a bright future. The reason he told me I was on the team was because, “You have earned my trust.” I’ll talk more about that in another post, but I thought that was very interesting at the time.

I worked hard in practice, developed a good relationship with my coaches, and saw some playing time, but nothing to get excited about. I was playing the shooting guard position now and was a spot up shooter at best, but I did well in practice and shot good enough to build confidence and realize that if I only am a spot up shooter for the rest of my college career that I could make a difference and add value to our team shooting 3’s. We had a pretty bad season as a team and once the season ended I was back to the drawing board trying to figure out how to improve.

That off season I stayed on campus and lived 2 minutes from the gym. I added a vertical leap program to my training, but I was all alone in my training. I lived alone and this is when I really developed my ability to shoot coming off screen and on the move since I couldn’t shoot spot up shots without a rebounder. This was probably the best off season I have ever had. I remember adding up the hours I spent in the gym a week and I was averaging 5 hours a day.

Junior Year of College

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Augie In College

My coach noticed all the work I was putting in. He brought in some recruits to play 3 on 3 one day. I dominated. He brought in another one to play me in 1 on 1, same story. He decided that I had improved so much that he offered my a scholarship and made me team captain. I was shocked and more motivated than ever. I now realized that I was good enough to be a factor. I still came off the bench for the first 3 games though and was solid playing about 15 minutes or so. I had some 10 point games but I knew that as soon as I got a bigger opportunity I would capitalize. Thank God for foul trouble.

The guy who started over me got in foul trouble and I played 30 minutes in the 4th game of the season. I had 15 points, hit some BIG shots, and we won the game by 1 point. I have never looked back.

We finished the season with a decent record and I became a full time starter and averaged 15.0 ppg and shot 49% from the 3pt line. I used to have no confidence, would always defer to other players, and now I was the total opposite. My high school teammates were amazed how my style of play and abilities had changed.

That off season I had a new workout partner who was a basketball training student. I also worked out with a big time, local trainer who had the most innovative workouts I had ever seen before.

Senior Season of College

It was time. After a pretty good Junior year I started to think that maybe my dream of playing professionally one day was actually possible, but I never really gave it to much thought since it was still such a long shot. I knew that it was important that I had a better year than the previous one so I went into the season super focused.

I stuck to the pure shooter role, but this year I was much more dynamic in that I could run off screens, shoot off the dribble, and was more comfortable with the ball in my hands. I continued to light up the league. After 10 games into the season I was leading the league in scoring at 18.1 ppg, but to be honest we were losing a lot. I even scored 31 points against Fresno St. which is a D1 school. I decided that it was best for our team if I deferred some so our other scoring options and it worked. We finished the season very strong and won 8 out of our last 11 games. I finished with the 2nd best 3pt % at the NCAA D2 level (50.0%) and scored 15.5 ppg. I continued my training after season in hoped of playing overseas, but really I just knew nothing else at that point except waking up early to work out so I just kept with it.

Overseas Basketball

I did a lot of networking and researching on how small college players end up signing overseas. I worked hard, had an agent, but nothing every went through. I decided I would give up on my dream and I moved to China to teach English as some sort of adventure. Then one day I received and email that changed everything.  As of updating this post (10/16/14) I am currently in my 6th season playing professionally in Europe.  I will write the full story of my journey overseas very soon and update this post with a link as well.

1 Comment

  • Karlo Garcia

    Reply Reply July 12, 2015

    I enjoyed your basketball journey Augie, one of the most important aspect of you was you never quit, you had the determination to succeed whatever the odds were 🙂

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