While at Hialeah Gardens, Yunio Barrueta was one of the key figures of his high school’s first state championship in boys’ basketball.
Almost three years later, Barrueta is hoping to make a little more history for his college team at Barry University.
Following a solid sophomore season, Barrueta has earned Division II Preseason All-America honorable mention by Sporting News. Barrueta’s play helped Barry advance to the NCAA Division II Tournament.
“When we first knew Yunio was interested in coming home, we were attracted to the prospect,” Barry coach Butch Estes said. “Seeing him play in the summer, he looked like a great player. I’m glad we got him as a sophomore because now we have him for three years in this program.”
Barrueta played at East Tennessee State as a freshman, but didn’t earn much playing time and averaged only 2.4 points and 2.3 rebounds per game.
But Barrueta looked much more comfortable in an expanded role after transferring to Barry.
Barrueta, 6-6 junior guard/forward, is hoping to improve upon last season’s 14.1 points and team-best 9.0 rebounds per game that earned him All-Sunshine State Conference first-team honors and the conference’s Newcomer of the Year.
One of his dunks during a regular-season game on Jan.28 made an ESPN “SportsCenter’’ Top 10 list last season.
“What stands out about him is how hard he works,” Estes said. “As good a year as he had last year, he had some weaknesses and some areas he needed to address. I know he put the time in to get better and work on that. When you get a young man with that ability and that attitude, you have a winning combination.”
Barrueta, a first team All-Dade selection in high school, is also experiencing a bit of a high school reunion with a couple of his former teammates from that 2012 Hialeah Gardens state championship team.
On a Barry squad that has six players that played high school basketball in South Florida, Barrueta reunited last season with sophomore forward Adrian Gonzalez and sophomore center Alvaro Simoza. The Bucs’ roster also includes senior guard Juan Ferrales (American Heritage), senior guard Deric Hill (South Miami) and Charles Agumagu (North Miami Beach).
“Coming back to Miami and being with family and friends was great,” Barrueta said. “I pretty much played my game and adjusted well to our system here.”
Barrueta is excited about Barry’s chances of returning to the tournament this season and playing two early-season games at Division I powers, Louisville and Florida.
“Overall, last year was great going 19-9 and making the tournament,” Barrueta said. “I think it was just the start and we’re looking forward to another big year.”