November 5, 2016

Vigil going the East Bay way

Kevin McCarthy

When you reside way up in Shasta County where cattle outnumber humans and your high school has just 150 or so students, getting recognized as a scholarship-level athlete takes some doing. Realizing his situation, Fall River High's Justin Vigil took matters into his own hands and headed south to Sacramento where he promptly established his recruiting bonafides last summer.

photo of Justin Vigil

Ranked No. 13 in the NorCalPreps 2017 class, the 6-foot-7 Vigil tried out with the EBA Pharoahs and made the top team in that organization. One very favorable result: much more exposure resulting in contacts from colleges and universities. To get a sense of what his July was like, Vigil explained, "I was away from home from the 5th to the 25th playing in tournaments down south and in Las Vegas."

It paid off because Vigil committed this week to Cal State East Bay and Coach Gus Argenal.

So who are the Pioneers getting?

"Justin is a great basketball player who works hard from the tip to the last buzzer and takes no plays off," EBA Pharoahs Coach Jason Barton said. "He is one of the hardest working players and it shows in the progression of his game over the summer. Justin is a very smart kid and it transfers to his game with his ability to find opportunities to score, his adjustments on the defensive end and his way to get what needs to be done. As an organization, we are proud of Justin and he definitely deserves to play at the next level. He will be a great asset to East Bay. They got a great player, teammate and an even better person."

Vigil is grateful for not only the opportunity but what he learned. "I want to thank Jason Barton, Troy Selvey, James Jansen and Jason Jennings (all EBA Pharoahs coaches) for all the support they gave me. They helped with a lot of things and helped transform my game. I owe them."

He continued, "in competing over the summer, the thing that set me apart was my motor. I played defense and rebounded very well." Vigil also added 10 pounds, up to 205 now, through spending much more time lifting iron.

Fall River High Coach Scott Gallion has witnessed Vigil's development. "Justin has played varsity since he was a freshman and he has consistently gotten better. He's a hard worker. Kids up here understand that nothing will be given to them. Living on a ranch means you get up early, stay up late and work hard."

Gallion added, "Justin is very athletic, runs the court well and shoots the ball really well. He has gotten stronger this year and taken on the team leader role. He's a vocal communicator. It was great for Justin to play AAU and face the tough competition this summer."

Concurring about connecting on the court, Vigil offered, "This year, it kind of took off and fully blossomed. It's imperative to communicate. Not talking on defense will hurt you. It's also about holding teammates accountable."

Vigil didn't play football this year and is undecided about continuing with track. "I need to improve my strength because I'll be playing against grown men at the next level. I really want to focus on getting into the weight room."

Athletic versatility is a part of the family. "My Dad played football and basketball in high school and my brother played football at Butte College. My oldest sister did rodeo at Southwestern Oklahoma State University and my other sister plays polo at Harvard."

His top basketball moment (and as he added he's hoping for more of them), "I think my favorite so far was in my sophomore year at a home tournament we hadn't won since 1999. We played Chester High in the championship game and won by 15 or 20. I had 26 points."

Possessing a 3.7 grade point average, Vigil posted a 1270 score on the SAT and 25 on the ACT. He is exploring at a couple of possibilities as college majors, communications and education, looking at becoming a teacher, principal and superintendent with the latter.

Vigil is being looked at primarily as a stretch four. He's also working on his ball handling to translate greater proficiency in that element into possible time at the three spot.