Thursday, October 16, 2008

San Antonio Lee HS Boys Preview

Top Left: 2010 PG 6'0" Paul Garnica
Top Right: 2010 G 6'2" Ryan Pierce
Middle Left: G 6'3" Ryan James
Middle Right: 2009 G 5'10" Henry Garcia, Coach Tommy Hines, & P 6'4" Adam Muro
Bottom: Coach Hines instructs Lee players during the athletic period.
Today I dropped in on San Antonio Lee's morning athletic period. It was like stepping back in time to 6 years ago when current Lee Head Coach Tommy Hines was a key Assistant to Coach Romy Vela at San Antonio John Jay HS. The Jay Mustangs had just won a 5A State Championship, with Hines playing a key role on that staff. They beat a talented Dallas Lincoln team with future NBA star Chris Bosh. Many of you will remember John Jay's Chris Ross' half court game winning shot that stunned the crowd at the Erwin Center.

Back to today. I saw the same scrappy, feisty group of undersized kids, many of them undersized Hispanic kids that reminded me of Jay Circa 2003. But Holy Cow, were they hungry at practice! Coach Hines is in his 4th year now as Head Coach at Lee. I think it's fair to say he took over a program which was in disarray. The kids did not have a sense of pride in the program. Let me tell you folks, that's out the window. Hines is the new sheriff in town and has taken these kids, believed in them as youngsters (he started a couple of freshmen on varsity back three years ago) and molded them into a very competitive crew. They took some lumps over the last couple of seasons but they are poised now to make a playoff run. Madison and Reagan will likely be the class of the district, but I predict that Lee will be right there for a playoff spot.

Lee has a much varsity experience as anyone. The drawback is their overall lack of height, but Hines will "coach 'em up" by playing a lot of 4 out, incorporating a lot of Dean Smith's old Carolina stuff and getting after it man to man defensively with lots of pressing and trapping. The Lee kids have a toughness and scrappiness about them that reminds me more of Dallas and Houston kids.

The closest thing Lee has to a post presence will be 6'4" Adam Muro. Rebounding will have to be by committee.

2009 G 5'10" Henry Garcia will provide senior leadership. He's a solid D-2, D-3 type kid with Trinity and Grandview (Iowa) recruiting him at the moment.

Look for G 6'3" Ryan James to log major minutes.

Along with Garcia, there are two other players who will be three year starters this coming season. 2010 G 6'2" Ryan Pierce is a natural scorer, who just gets the job done.

The key guy for Lee is 2010 PG 6'0" Paul Garnica. In late May, Garnica got promoted to the top Texas D-1 Ambassador group. He was simply too good to keep out of the lineup. Keep in mind that to this point we've had guards off that group commit to Arizona, Lamar, and two others who have been offered by San Francisco and Colorado. Garnica belonged in this group! He hit 10 three pointers in a game as a freshman at Lee. It goes without saying he can heat it up from the perimeter. As I got to know Paul, what became obvious is that he is a real student of the game while also possessing an "annoying street edge" to his repertoire. Annoying that is to the opposition. He's a great team mate and very unselfish. He prides himself on deflections and steals defensively, many times drawing the assignment on the other team's most talented offensive player. One drawback Garnica has is he can occasionally be nonchalant when handling the ball. As he continues to mature though, I see this occurring less and less. He has above average grades, even drawing the interest of the Ivy league's Cornell who were in the Lee gym watching him in last week's athletic period.