With March Madness cancelled this year due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. We thought it a nice time to look back at the Latino ballers that graced hardcourt’s past. Originally Published: March 2014
Spring is here, and with its impending arrival comes the phenomena known as March Madness! How ubiquitous is it? When investor royalty and multi-billionaire Warren Buffett gets in the act. His offer of a $1 billion dollar payout for an unblemished bracket, you know this is BIG!
With odds of winning somewhere between 1 in 576 quadrillion or 1 in 126 billion (depending on which stats guru you talk to). You might want to break out the rabbit’s foot. Perhaps tweet Walter Mercado to suggest a concoction you can bathe in or drink.
With that as a backdrop, are you ready for a riveting dosage of “U-Tube” over the next four weeks? By “U” I mean the “unpredictable” sprinkled with a touch of the “unheralded” and “unknown.” Most of these Latino ballers fall in the latter two categories. They represent mid-major or relatively obscure conferences that could spoil many chances of becoming America’s next billionaire by going far into the tourney or merely punching a ticket to the dance. Allow us to introduce 2014’s March Madness Latino Phenoms.
Patricio Garino, Guard/Forward, George Washington Colonials
Now a sophomore at George Washington, the 6’ 6” native of Mar del Plata, Argentina. Garino has the size and versatility in his game, which have helped the Colonials to a 25-7 record and an overall third place seeding in the Atlantic 10 entering Championship Week. Garino, who has aspirations of playing professionally in the NBA or Europe, has the team’s highest field goal efficiency, Nearly 57% and currently sits third in scoring (12), second in steals (1.6) and second in blocked shots (1) on a per game basis. He has upped his scoring by nearly four points from his freshman season and will shoulder more offensive duties going into next.
Before arriving at GW, his basketball accomplishments include guiding Florida’s Montverde Academy to a No. 9 ranking in the final ESPNHS Powerade Fab 50 in 2011-12. In addition, he helped the Eagles to the championship game of the prestigious ESPN National High School Invitational. Last but by no means least, Garino competed for his native country’s National Team in the World Championships. His international experience was highlighted by a 21-point effort for Argentina in a win over Croatia.
Orlando Sanchez, Forward, Saint John’s Red Storm
A senior from Nagua in the Dominican Republic, Sanchez was described by the team’s head coach as, “a versatile athlete who has a diverse skill set for a player his size. He can play-make, shot-make, defend multiple positions, block shots and rebound. Orlando is a selfless team player, with a competitive nature that will benefit our team.” At 6’ 9,” Sanchez, a solid defensive player, who has played on the Dominican Republic National Team coached by Kentucky’s John Calipari, where Sanchez faced NBA level opposition in the form of Rajon Rondo and John Wall. Not too shabby if you ask us.
Luis Jacobo, Forward, IPFW Mastodons
A senior from Sanford, Florida, the 6’ 5” Dominican Jacobo is the team’s leading scorer at 15 points per game to go along with four rebounds and two assists in 29 minutes. The transfer from College of Central Florida, who once led them to the NJCAA Regional Championship game, is an impact player with a great shooting range who guided his high school team to three consecutive District Championships while leading them in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots his final year. Oh yes, and the man can dunk. Don’t believe us, check out his highlight reel.
Jose Rodriguez, Forward, Texas Southern Tigers
Don’t be fooled by the “rock” that he’s got. Thought it would be appropriate to introduce the 6’ 7” junior from the Bronx with that line. Third on the team in scoring with 11 points and six rebounds per game, Rodriguez is a tenacious defender and a willing passer for a forward who also averages two assists in 26 minutes of court action.
Mitchell Badillo, Guard, Incarnate Word Cardinals
The team’s floor general. He leads in assists with four per game, Badillo averages eight points a contest and is the team’s top free-throw shooter at 78%. Now in his sophomore year. The 5’ 10” Badillo paid immediate dividends in his freshman campaign by starting half of all games for the Cardinals. During his high school career, Badillo was a back-to-back District MVP at Cypress Falls High School as a junior and senior. He also led Greater Houston in assists in each of his final two seasons.
Eric Garcia, Guard, Wofford Terriers
Talk about baptism by fire. The 5’ 11” Garcia is a true freshman getting significant minutes at 26 per game. He has responded nicely to the challenge with averages of seven points and two and a half assists (second on the team). The former star at Grandview High School is their all-time leader in career points scored and assists. Also earning All-State and First Team All-Conference honors. If that’s not impressive enough, he was selected to play in what is referred to as “The Show.” An All-Star game featuring the top players in Colorado.
Michael Alvarado, Guard, Manhattan Jaspers
A senior from the Bronx, NY, the 6’ 2” Alvarado is ending his college career with a flourish. Compiling per game personal bests in points (12), assists (4), steals (1.5), rebounds (3) and field goal percentage (46%). All in 25 minutes of game action. Alvarado, who has played for the Jaspers since the 2010 season, is also the team’s co-captain. A role teammates and coaches elected him to at the start of the 2012-13 campaign.
From the many definitions I found for madness, I extracted pieces of each to come up with this apt description. “A state of frenzied or chaotic activity often producing extreme excitement and/or foolishness.” In other words, expect the unexpected. Because that is what March Madness is all about.