Wednesday, May 16, 2012 | 1:08 p.m.
When Bishop Gorman High’s Gio Guzman verbally committed in late March to play college basketball at Division I Florida International, the 5-foot-10 point guard assumed the recruiting process was over.
But, in the two weeks from when he committed to when he was scheduled to sign a letter of intent, Florida International coach Isaiah Thomas was unexpectedly fired — leaving Guzman without a team. When the signing period opened, Guzman still didn’t know if his scholarship offer was good because Florida International hadn’t yet hired Thomas’ replacement.
That’s when Guzman went back to the drawing board, ultimately signing this week with NAIA Northwest Christian University in Eugene, Ore. He had visited Northwest Christian before Thomas and Florida International arrived late in the process.
“Gio is the first kid I ever had to recruit twice,” Northwest Christian coach Corey Anderson said in a statement. “While his original decision to go with Coach Thomas and D-I Florida International was completely understandable, and supported by me, I’m obviously very pleased with the outcome this time around.”
The senior Guzman averaged a Southern Nevada best 7.3 assists per game in helping Gorman win the state title. On a team with four of the nation’s top 150 recruits for the class of 2012, the point guard position was considered a liability at the beginning of the season until Guzman flourished in his role as the floor leader.
Gorman finished ranked No. 11 nationally, making Guzman a big-time recruit for Northwest Christian. His signing is the lead story on the school’s athletic website.
“Being able to land a recruit from Bishop Gorman is great for us. Having played a more national schedule, Gio comes in with the experience of big games with a lot of atmosphere,” Anderson said. “Nothing he sees or feels at our level will be new to him.”
In the end, the aggressive pursuit of coaches at Northwest Christian won out.
“Coach Anderson brought my family and me in with open arms. From the very beginning he made me feel like I would be coming to a home away from home, making me feel very comfortable,” Guzman said in a statement. “I brought my mom on a second visit and once she felt the welcoming atmosphere and generosity that everyone had towards me, I knew I couldn’t turn down an offer like this.”