Isaac Garcia wasn’t fazed by this past’s record for the South Mountain Community College men’s basketball team. The Cougars, of Phoenix, finished at 12-18 overall and 7-15 conference for 11th place among 12 teams in the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference.
Garcia wants to help South Mountain turns its fortunes around.
“I came from an excellent coach, and so, I believe I’ll be going there and showing them what I can bring and learn, and bring a good energy to the team,” Garcia said before signing a National Letter of Intent with South Mountain during a ceremony Tuesday afternoon in a packed Monroe Catholic High School library.
The 6-foot combo — point and shooting — guard was joined by his mother, Mari; brother, Joshua; and father, Peter, at the signing table.
Garcia averaged 14.4 points last season to help Monroe Catholic place fourth in the Class 3A state tournament at the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Alaska Airlines Center in March. The Rams advanced to the state tournament after earning an at-large berth after placing third in the Aurora Conference Tournament in March in Valdez.
“You don’t get to this point without putting in an extraordinary amount of work in whatever sport that you choose,” Frank Ostanik, Monroe Catholic athletic director and boys basketball head coach, said before the signing.
“I can speak to that amount of Isaac has put in since I have personally coached him and seen the effort and time he has put in.”
Ostanik also spoke about what he thinks Garcia will bring to South Mountain program, which also is a member of NJCAA Division II.
“Isaac is an exceptional defender and he’s an exceptional competitor,” Ostanik said. “When you’re talking about program that finished 11th out of 12 teams, one thing Isaac will bring immediately is a competitiveness that will raise the level of all kids around him.
“People who aren’t going to play as hard as he does are going to struggle with his competitiveness. And that will affect those other players to where they play harder, they compete harder and the team becomes better.”
Garcia also gained an understanding of basketball in the Arizona Community Collegiate Athletic Conference after he spoke last month with Jeremiah Bailey, a former Monroe Catholic standout forward who recently completed his sophomore season for the University of the Pacific, an NCAA Division I program in the West Coast Conference. Bailey transferred to Pacific from Pima College, an Arizona CCAC rival of South Mountain.
Bailey and Garcia spoke during Garcia’s campus visit to South Mountain.
“He said you’re going to have to adapt to the speed of the game and get a lot stronger,” Garcia said, “because they’re very strong and sometimes they have a lot of the D-I transfers down who don’t make grades (for D-I programs) or anything. They’re a really tough conference.”
He then added with a big grin, “Not to say anything but my team beat his team one time last year.”
Garcia has been a four-sport athlete for Monroe Catholic — four seasons of football, soccer and baseball and one season of baseball.
He was an outside linebacker and halfback for the Rams football team. He plays at striker for the Monroe Catholic soccer team and at third base for its baseball team.
In college, he’ll just focus on one sport. However, being a multiple-sport athlete for Monroe Catholic should benefit him for South Mountain Community College.
“When I was playing basketball here, I wanted to stay in shape and help this school out because there’s not so many people here,” Garcia said. “I just tried everybody sport I could, that I’m good at and doing the best to my ability.”
Garcia said he plans to earn an associate degree in general studies at South Mountain.
Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports.