The unforgettable moment occurred close to five years ago, albeit Mater Lakes Academy head basketball coach Juan Urbina still has vivid recollections of it.
A gym teacher in MLA school district's middle school urgently flagged down Urbina, who was traipsing the hallways en route to class. The gym teacher instantly implored Urbina to take a long, hard look at one particular athlete during middle school gym class.
"You've got to see this kid coach, you've got to," Urbina recalls the animated gym teacher urging him.
Instantly heeding the request, Urbina followed the gym teacher to a smurf-sized gym in the campus' middle school. As Urbina would recall, he had nary a clue of what to expect.
Urbina will never forget what then ensued.
Before a horde of hyped up classmates, a then 5-foot-7 Cyrus Largie threw down one authoritative two-handed dunk after another. Largie levitated above the rim gracefully, utilizing the type of hang time reserved strictly for freak athletes. Urbina recalls him hounding the young middle schooler all over campus the next fall, making sure he knew when tryouts were.
Fast forward to five years later. Now at the doorstep of a heavily-anticipated 2018-19 senior season, Largie has piled up 2,500+ career points. He's fended off countless box-and-one and junk defenses, various schemes predicated on neutralizing his thorough surges to the rim
The bullish 6-foot-3 guard's game has evolved and adapted to new concepts, as well.
"He's shooting the ball with more confidence than ever before," Urbina explained.
"He's rebounding and his defensive tenacity have improved tremendously. Those were two areas he's lacked in the past and now he's putting it all together. He's diving for 50-50 balls. He's staying in the gym late at night, I'm talking at 10-11. He's in there getting shots up. He's really setting the best example of what being a leader requires. The other day he dove for a loose ball outside and almost smashed his head on the concrete. I had to tell him 'woah, easy champ."
Largie has gone from a drive-first attacker to a versatile scoring threat capable of dissecting defenders, employing a unique elbow mid range pull-up. With his vaunted first step and knack for knifing into the teeth of the defense, Largie has the capabilities for manufacturing points at a wild pace.
As a callow and unproven seventh grader, Largie averaged a whopping 35.3 PPG through his first three games. The ensuing year, he played meaningful varsity minutes as a middle schooler. During the summer leading into his senior season at Mater Lakes Academy, Largie averaged a team-best 28 points, six assists, and seven boards. His presence was instrumental in helping forge a fresh blooded core into a unit.
There have been several steps Urbina has utilized to eliminate Largie's demure side. With Largie being the team's longest tenured player and unrivaled go-to source, Urbina knows he needs a loud and shot-calling senior guard to materialize in him.
"He's gone from a letter grade of F to a C with his vocal leadership," explained Urbina, who has taught at the school for 10+ years.
"Now he's beginning to solidify B in that vocal leadership category because of his maturity. With his desire and his want, he's becoming more and more vocal everyday. He loves the opportunity of getting to potentially play University School. It is the ultimate challenge for him, it's the ultimate David v. Goliath opportunity. If we mess around and catch lightning in a bottle in that game against U-School, this thing could be a national story that could spread like wildfire. Ideas like that, they give Cyrus the fuel and motivation to be the guy out there."
Despite Largie's gaudy numbers, Urbina said he always identified an unselfish and unassuming kid in Largie. This has perception has actually been altered a bit recently. Largie is cognizant he has to be aggressive as ever to score the basketball.
He understands the onus is on him to will the team to victory with his innate, clutch scoring. Largie has never been one for projections or self-boasting. And so Urbina was taken aback when his seasoned senior star explained he wanted to lead not just Miami but the entire state of Florida in scoring.
"I feel really confident that he's going to be a candidate to lead the state in scoring, I would not be surprised if he does indeed lead the state in scoring this year," Urbina explained.
Tag(s): Player Spotlights