Amaurys Fermin speaks for just about every elite athlete when he says he’s always wanted to be “the guy people look at.”
But during his first two seasons in San Luis Obispo, when people looked at the former junior college transfer point guard, all they saw was a man in a Cal Poly polo shirt.
Injury and eligibility issues kept Fermin on the sidelines, but he overcame both to have a standout senior season, one celebrated at the Mustangs’ men’s basketball banquet at the Performing Arts Center on Friday.
“It was a great experience,” said Fermin, a former Bronx, N.Y., prep standout who once scored 47 points and led Kennedy High to a city championship at Madison Square Garden. “I wish I had more years to play, but that’s part of life. You don’t always get what you want and you move on. I’m happy I got the opportunity. A lot of people don’t get the chance to play college basketball. I’ve got that on my resume. That’s checked off the bucket list.”
Born in the Dominican Republic, where he lived until the age of 7, Fermin has been invited to try out for his native national team, which is coached by Kentucky’s John Calipari. He’s missed the first part of training camp to remain in San Luis Obispo and walk in today’s graduation ceremony.
After leading the Big West Conference with 119 assists, Fermin and fellow senior Will Taylor have each secured sports agents in Europe and expect to sign professionally before the season starts in September. Seniors David Hanson, Will Donahue, Jordan Lewis and Matt Titchenal will each move on into their post-basketball careers.
Hanson, named team MVP after leading Cal Poly with 11.8 points per game, is pursuing a graduate degree, with the possibility of going into coaching. Older brother Matt, who ended his college career at Cal Poly in 2008, played professionally for several years in Australia.
That life simply didn’t appeal to the Plymouth, Minn., native, who ranks first with the Mustangs all-time in career appearances (122), seventh in rebounds (628) and eighth in points scored (1,267).
“The option’s there, but I think at this point, it’s a chapter I’ve definitely kind of closed,” the 6-foot-5 forward said. “I really enjoyed my time here and still love the game, but I just don’t have the desire to really pursue that.”
Donahue might have also had a shot at a pro career, but the 6-9 center was hampered by a partial tear of his Achilles tendon all of last season.
He says it still bothers him, and he’s decided to focus on a career in criminal justice.
Lewis, winner of the Coaches Award, plans to spend another quarter at Cal Poly and is studying to apply to dental school. Titchenal, the Academic Excellence Award Winner and Big West Male Scholar Athlete of the Year, has been accepted to Stanford’s master’s program in mechanical engineering.
Fermin shared the Captain’s Award with Hanson and took home the Most Inspirational Award, given based on his journey through two prep schools, two junior colleges, and two previous scholarship offers falling through on his way to Cal Poly.
Fermin had to redshirt his first year as a Mustang to catch up on a math class before he became eligible, and he tore his ACL just prior to the start of his junior season.
“It’s a testament to the whole structure of the team and the support and the quality kid that he is that he could overcome those obstacles.
“He had a chance to jump out of here and sign a pro contract, but he was committed to go through graduation and have the full college experience.”