His coach calls him his ‘stat line man’ since he tends to lead his squad in every major category.
But Toru Dean is filling in a much greater need for one of Miami-Dade County’s top programs.
On a South Miami squad that returned only one player from last year’s state semifinalist team, Dean, a 5-10 junior point guard, has emerged as its most versatile player after transferring over from nearby Southridge High.
Dean delivered another clutch performance on Tuesday night with 25 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists to lead the Cobras to a 71-66 win over North Miami in a GMAC tournament semifinal at South Miami.
"At the beginning he started slow in our system, but once he got a hold of it he took off," South Miami coach Robert Doctor said. "He does a whole lot for this team."
The Cobras (21-3) prevailed in what was a rematch of last year’s regional finals against the visiting Pioneers and will take on Palmetto in the GMAC championship round on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. at a site to be determined.
That game will also be a rematch of last year’s final won by South Miami.
Last year’s Cobras graduated several talented players including Miami Herald Player of the Year Zack Dawson, who would sign with Oklahoma State.
Dean, who is averaging over 20 points per game, has no formal scholarship offers yet but said schools such as Florida Gulf Coast and Northern Arizona have shown interest in him since he spent the offseason excelling at a number of college camps including FGCU.
"He rebounds the ball, assists the ball, scores the ball, defends well," Doctor said. "He’s an all-around player. He was on the radar a little bit before, but he’s really starting to get attention now."
Dean has fit in nicely with a young group of juniors also led by 6-6 forward Lee Flenor, who finished Tuesday’s game with 20 points and an impressive 22 rebounds.
Dean said since coming to South Miami he has also become a better leader on the court and raised his GPA from 2.1 to 2.8.
"My coach has been telling me how to control my speed during the game," Dean said. "But more than anything I’ve been learning how to lead this team both on and off the court. They’ve been on me to always be on time in class and work hard in the classroom."
GMAC semifinal – Palmetto 72, Norland 68: The Panthers reached the Class 9A regional semifinals last year with a balanced offensive approach.
It’s working again this season.
Joey Martinez spearheaded the effort on Tuesday with 26 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks as he led Palmetto to the close win over the Vikings at South Miami. Mike Starks, Danilo Castellano and Jovan DeBrilo each finished with nine points. Alex Rodriguez had seven points and six rebounds.
The Panthers will try to avenge a pair of losses last season against South Miami in Thursday’s final.