May 23, 2013

All good for Gruber

Kevin McCarthy

“Chaos in the world brings uneasiness, but it also allows the opportunity for creativity and growth” -- Tom Barrett.

photo of Colin Gruber

Coming out of Harbor High as a Santa Cruz County Athletic League Most Valuable Player, Colin Gruber went from being on top of the world to wondering what basketball universe he was residing in but his steadfastness has paid off nicely.

After posting 26.6 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.8 steals as a senior, Gruber chose Northern Arizona University (NAU), a member of the Big Sky Conference.

He had no way of knowing of what lay next.

No one did.

His freshman season as a Lumberjack became a 5-24, 1-15 team disaster. His coach, Mike Adras, received the boot that December, after his leadership included forcing players to lie on practice time logs and per diem expense sheets and then subsequently promising retaliation to any 'traitors' who were considering cooperation in the investigation. His appointed interim leader was a former NAU coach for the school women's team who last patrolled the sidelines 22 years ago. That's quite a trifecta.

So it was adios to Flagstaff and hello to Cabrillo College, situated in Gruber's hometown of Aptos. Gruber wanted to re-establish his basketball bonafides and get himself into a much healthier situation one year hence. Plus, Seahawk Head Coach Tony Marcopulos had a reputation as an X's-and-O's coach with strong ties to the DI level from his days as an assistant at Pacific.

What followed was Gruber earning honors as the Coast Conference South Most Valuable Player and First Team All State status based on his 17.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per game plus totals of 71 assists, 47 steals and 22 blocked shots.

What did he gain from his year in the community college ranks?

“I definitely got my scoring ability back on board.”

He also added an inch to his height and 25 pounds to his frame while being the sole consistent points producer on the team and the target of opposing defenses. His wingspan is 80 inches.

Now, he has signed with UC Riverside of the Big West Conference, a young squad looking for leadership.

The 6-foot-4 Gruber's reasons for going with the Highlanders? “The potential to win and it was close to LA so there will be stuff to do. Plus, the warm weather.“ Besides the latter, a January/February trip to Honolulu is also on tap since Hawaii is a league member.

The son of a former high school coach (and he has the basketball IQ to show for it) certainly took his time in the recruiting process. On spring break when he was headed to Los Angeles to see friends, he took an unofficial trip to the campus. That was later followed by an official visit.

To a query about what he would say if Riverside hoops fans inquired about what they will be seeing from him, Gruber offered, “Hopefully my experience at NAU will translate as I know how physical and quick the game will be and I'll be playing multiple positions.”

He is looking to major in business.

Both Josh Fox and Taylor Johns out of Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep just finished impressive freshman seasons at Riverside and Cosumnes River College's Charles Standifer has signed on to make it a sizeable northern California contingent of talent for the Highlanders.