It is no secret that Rico Herrera, senior at Harlingen South HS in Harlingen, Texas, is one of the best players in the Rio Grande Valley. I do personally apologize for not getting more coverage on this young man, but he is undoubtedly a unanimous pick for the All-Valley team. Let me take the time to make sure the rest of Texas knows.
Let's go back to the Spring of 2002. I had been asked by the Harlingen Boys and Girls Club to coach an All-Star team that would finalize the league. I was calling parents and notifying them of when practices and games would be. On my list was a young man named Rico Herrera, parents, Rick and Belinda Herrera. I didn't recognize this name and I was told that Rico was from Rio Hondo, a neighboring town with a population of roughly 2000 people. Rico came to the first practice and I was instanly impressed by his hard work, team mentality, and his 'great manners.' All-Stars consists of two practices and 2-3 games all in a two week period so I had little time to really get to know each kid, but I instantly fell in love with the Herrera family (especially when little sister, Sidney Herrera [volleyball/basketball standout] gave me an overflowing valentine baggie of goodies from Rico). Lol. Time passed and Boys and Girls Club basketball would soon be in full swing again. I called up the Herrera's and they were on board. From there on out, our relationship grew.
Rico Herrera is shown putting up a shot over a defender
Sophmore Year: 2007-2008:
As a sophmore, while attending 3A Rio Hondo HS, Rico was already beginning to make some noise. Herrera averaged 22.8 and 5.8 assists per game. He also received New Comer of the Year. Out of the entire All-Valley First Team he was the only 3A player, the other five players were 5A kids.
Junior Year: 2008-2009:
Last year, as a junior, Herrera made All-District First Team for 31-5A. Herrera also placed in the top 15 in rebounding in all the valley averaging almost 8 rebounds a game. He was on the top leaderboards in scoring as he was avergaing 10-12 points a game.
Senior Year: 2009-2010:
Fast forward to the Spring of 2010, almost 8 years later and Rico Herrera is still turning heads with his non-waivering work ethic, incredible skill on the court, high-achieving academic status, and as always, his "great manners." Herrera has spent the last two years at South High School and has been a starter in almost every game, especially his senior year.
The 2009-2010 season started as most high schools do with scrimmages and tournaments.
Here Rico is seen at a preseason scrimmage against the McAllen Bulldogs. Since his elementary days, Herrera has always devoted all his time and energy to basketball. Playing a variety sports was easy for this natural athlete, but as a sophmore, Herrera decided to stick with basketball. It was a great decision as his efforts have truly paid off. Rico has led all scorers on almost every game of this season. He has doubled his scoring average this year. For example:
Nov. 17: 23 points (vs. Sharyland HS ** 4 three-pointers)
Jan. 12: 22 points (vs. Edinburg HS)
Feb. 2: 19 points (vs. Edinburg North HS ** 3 three-pointers)
Feb. 5: 20 points (vs. Edinburg HS ** 4 three-pointers)
Feb. 29: 25 points (vs. city rival Harlingen HS)
I could go on and on about his individual game scores, but it is obvious why Herrera has been selected Offensive Player of the Year for his district. Rico is indeed a tremendous team leader this year as Harlingen South came in 2nd in District 31-5A and earned a spot in the post season.
The reason Rico is such a successful offensive player is because he can shoot from virtually anywhere on the court. As his numbers show, he is a consistent three-point shooter and just like Bruce Bowen from the Spurs, has a sweet spot on the corner part of the arc that is almost untouchable. Herrera has mastered the art of 'catch and shoot' as his fluid motion shows each time the ball swooshes in the net from 'way downtown.' Rico doesn't just shoot 3's, he scores NBA-range three's. Moving on to jumpers, 10 ft, 15 ft, you name it, it's going in. He's got a swift touch to the ball that gets it in the net everytime. My personal favorite, his aggressive drives to the bucket. Herrera has a strong determination while on the court and this energy goes into each scoring drive he takes. With his strong physique, Herrera is able to power his way in the paint and get to the hole. If he misses, beware he WILL be rebounding the ball and he WILL be putting it back up. He never stops. To top it all off, he is usually almost perfect from the free throw line. His high school coach, Brian Molina, can rest assured that Rico can sink those shots, even at the end of the fourth quarter, tired legs, tired arms, out of breath, this kid can do it. While all the offensive part sounds pretty, his defensive skills are match accordingly. Rico can easily take you off the dribble that will lead to turnover after turnover. His non-stop, never-ending attitude makes sure he plays until 00:00 is on the clock. Hands in your face, up-close is the way Herrera likes to play. He will steal the block, block the ball, pretty much stripthe ball from you if you aren't prepared to play. When you include offensive consistency, defensive stability, and a hard-working practice ethic, that includes additional after-practice, weekend workouts with additional basketball trainers, you get an unstoppable, determined, successful young man who is going to do wonders on the hardwood. You get Rico Herrera.
Above everything, basketball included, Rico Herrera, sometimes called 'Bubba' is an outstanding young man with good morals and values, a strong foundation of what is right, and a great example of what today's world needs in our youth. Rico is active in the community, helping all kinds of people with his gracious attitude. He is actively involved in Fellowship of Christian Athletes and is constantly mentoring and encouraging underclassmen on his basketball team in hopes that one day they will have the same success he has had. I am truly thankful for his friendship the past 8 years and to his wonderful family who has always shown me kindness in every way.
Congratulations to this great young man for an amazing high school basketball career and I know the future only holds more success for Rico Herrera.
** Note** There will be an update as All-Valley Awards are scheduled to be announced within the next two weeks.