By Ray Hamill — Gio Magdaleno is glad to be part of the three percent.
And that’s just part of the story.
On Thursday afternoon, in front a gathering of friends, family, coaches and teammates at the Ferndale gymnasium, Magdaleno signed a letter of intent to play college basketball next season at Napa Valley College.
“Only three percent of high school basketball players get to play in college,” he said. “I’m the lucky three percent. I get to play the game I love.”
It didn’t come easy.
The Wildcats’ standout has spent years honing his skills and practicing the game he loves, dedicating himself in the offseason to get to where he is today.
For the past two years, Magdaleno was a part of the local Pride AAU team, one of the original Team Beasts programs, where he played alongside the successful recent Fortuna contingent of players.
And the Ferndale star credits the program for helping him grow as a player, and as an athlete.
“I feel like all the practices and everyone there helped me develop my game,” he said.
He continues to work closely with The Athlete Factory in Eureka, which is associated with Team Beasts.
“They’ve helped me improve my body,” he said of the gym and the program. “They’re just great coaches.”
For Magdaleno, playing for Napa is just another part of the journey.
He says he intends to major in kinesiology and hopes to continue his playing career at a four-year school after his time with the Storm.
“I’d like to go overseas to play,” he said.
Either way, the Ferndale star intends to play the game for as long as he can.
As for why he choose Napa, like many of the local three-percenters, the fit just felt right.
“They were really welcoming there,” he said. “I went down for a couple of visits and practiced with the team.”
He says he considered options at several colleges, including College of the Redwoods, Siskiyous, Santa Rosa and Blue Mountain, before settling on Napa.
And as for what he’ll remember most about his time playing for the Cats?
“All the memories playing with my best friends,” he said, before adding with a smile, “and all the road trips.”
He joins a Storm team that competes in the Bay Valley Conference and struggled to a 5-23 record this past season.
“We’re excited about Gio signing,” Napa head coach Steve Ball said. “He’s a very high IQ basketball player, and he’s a gym rat.”
Ball, a South Fork grad who has been with the Napa program for 14 years, feels that work ethic is something that will pay dividends as the Little 4 player adapts to the college game.
“The fact he loves being in the gym and loves basketball bodes very well for him,” the Napa coach said.
The coach also praised his court vision and ability to shoot from deep.