Colleges

Barry University hoops success has Hialeah Gardens connection

 
 
Hialeah Gardens coach Marcos Molina celebrates with fans after their FHSAA Class 8A Boys Basketball Championship against Hagerty on Saturday, March 3, 2012 in Lakeland, Fla. The Gladiators won 63-46.
Hialeah Gardens coach Marcos Molina celebrates with fans after their FHSAA Class 8A Boys Basketball Championship against Hagerty on Saturday, March 3, 2012 in Lakeland, Fla. The Gladiators won 63-46.
Phil Sears / FOR THE MIAMI HERALD

Special to the Miami Herald

Barry University’s men’s basketball team, picked to finish tied for last in the nine-team Sunshine State Conference, is currently in second place, thanks in part to its Hialeah Gardens connection.

Four of the 15 players on the Barry roster played on the Hialeah Gardens High School team that won the Class 8A state title in 2012. The coach of that team, Marcos Molina, is also at Barry as a volunteer assistant.

His former players now at Barry are:

• Adrian Gonzalez, a 6-5, 205-pound freshman wing, is Barry’s sixth man but is third on the team in scoring (12.5). His shooting percentage from the floor (55.0) is among the best in the nation among freshmen.

“[Gonzalez] is very talented offensively and improving defensively,” first-year Barry coach Butch Estes said. “I would think he is the leading contender to win Freshman of the Year in the league.”

• Yunio Barrueta, a powerfully built 6-6, 220-pound sophomore, is second on the team in scoring (14.1) and third in the conference in rebounds (8.9). Two weeks ago, one of his dunks was featured on ESPN’s SportsCenter.

“[Barrueta] is the most athletic person I’ve ever seen,” Gonzalez said. “He’s a beast. He grabs every rebound, and he bulldozes you on his way to the rim.”

• Alvaro Simoza, a 6-6, 285-pound freshman center, is averaging just 4.7 minutes per game, but he could emerge as a starter next season after Barry’s only senior in the rotation, forward Magne Fivelstad, graduates.

Simoza suffered an ACL injury one year ago and has not yet fully recovered to his previous level of fitness.

“[But] it shows how good [Simoza] is that even with a knee injury, colleges still wanted him,” said Gonzalez, his roommate.

• Henry Leonardo, a 6-5, 195-pound freshman wing, is redshirting this season. He was a reserve on that championship Hialeah Gardens team, and Estes believes he has potential as a defender and rebounder because of his length, athleticism and work ethic.

Put all four together, and it’s an impressive haul for Barry from just one local high school, a fact that the rest of the Barry players have noticed.

“They call us ‘The Garden Boys,’ ” Barrueta said with a laugh.

Barrueta and Gonzalez were excellent Wednesday night when host Barry upset the nation’s sixth-ranked Division II team, Florida Southern, 94-76.

Gonzalez, who usually enters the game five minutes in, had 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting. Barrueta had 20 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks.

It was the second time this season that Barry (15-4, 6-4) has defeated a top-15 team. On Dec. 21, the Bucs knocked off No. 13 Livingstone.

The Bucs, who are 10-1 at home, got a boost in June when they hired Estes, a coach with substantial experience.

One of Estes’ first calls was to Molina, who at the time was still at Gardens. Estes, with help from volunteer assistant Justin Furr, was able to sign Gonzalez, Simoza and Leonardo.

When Barrueta, who had just finished his freshman season at East Tennessee State, heard about the “Gardens Party” at Barry, he wanted in.

He transferred back home, and since he went from Division I to Division II, he did not have to sit out the season.

Gonzalez said he and the other former Gardens players were pushing to get Barrueta at Barry, and the results have been great.

“It was important for us to play together again,” Gonzalez said. “But I also think it was important for Barry to get us because we bring that winning intensity.”

Read more State Colleges stories from the Miami Herald

  • FSU notebook

    Florida State’s Jesus 'Bobo' Wilson back in lineup

    Jesus “Bobo” Wilson’s suspension is over.

  • FIU notebook

    Award for FIU cornerback Richard Leonard

    Before missing 2013 as an academically ineligible player, Leonard got the Sun Belt Special Teams Player of the Week award for a 100-yard kickoff return against FAU in FIU’s next-to-last game before leaving the Sun Belt.

  •  
FIU athletic director Pete Garcia, left, and Miami Herald reporter David J. Neal.

    FIU

    FIU provides credential for Miami Herald’s beat reporter

    After denying access to Miami Herald beat writer David J. Neal for the football team’s opening game last Saturday, Florida International University has decided to credential him for the remainder of the season, according to Paul Dodson, the school’s assistant athletic director for media relations.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category