Arroyo Grande High senior point guard Michael Escobedo has signed a letter of intent to play basketball at MidAmerica Nazarene University, he said Sunday.
“I’m really excited about the opportunity,” Escobedo said. “It’s a real blessing. I always wanted to play college basketball, and it’s coming to pass.”
The 6-foot, 185-pounder was named to the all-PAC 7 first team earlier this week after averaging 13.8 points per game this year, leading the Eagles through a 21-8 season and a CIF-Southern Section Division 3AA quarterfinals appearance.
MidAmerica Nazarene is an NAIA program located in Olathe, Kan. The Pioneers went 18-13 this past season, a substandard year for MidAmerica Nazarene, which went 117-26 over the previous four campaigns, reaching NAIA Final Fours in each season, and claiming a national championship in 2007.
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Escobedo, a four-year varsity player, was named the tournament MVP at the Morro Bay Harding Invitational in December, and was selected to the all-tournament team at the Marin Catholic Tournament soon afterward.
As a junior, he earned PAC 7 Defensive Player of the Year and all-San Luis Obispo County first-team honors, when the Eagles went 20-9 and made it to the divisional semifinals, falling 44-41 to Santa Margarita, which featured a pair of NCAA Division I prospects in USC’s Daniel Muñoz and UC Riverside’s Jessee Hazely.
Escobedo, who said he feels he has a good chance of contributing if not starting early, accepted the full scholarship offer Friday after visiting the school earlier this week. Escobedo said he was particularly drawn to the school due to its location in a basketball-crazed environment.
During his visit, he and other recruits were taken to a high school game involving undefeated Bishop Miege, the top-ranked prep squad in Kansas, which drew a crowd of more than 3,000.
Also, MidAmerica Nazarene is located about a half-hour drive from Lawrence, Kan., home to the University of Kansas, currently ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press poll.
In the summer, Escobedo said, star-studded scrimmages are known to take place nearby involving Jayhawks stars as well as pros with ties to the area.
Escobedo’s ultimate goal, he said, would be to play professionally overseas, a future that 24th-year Pioneers head coach Rocky Lamar, who has guided 21 NAIA All-Americans, has helped a number of players realize, he said.
“They have a really rich basketball history,” Escobedo said, “and their coach loves grooming point guards.”