SAN JUAN — PSJA Memorial senior guard Yasmine Garcia made school history Wednesday evening when she inked her national letter of intent.
With the stroke of a pen, Garcia became the first Wolverines’ girls basketball star to take her talents to the collegiate level by signing to continue her academic and basketball careers at Allen College in Iola, Kansas, during a ceremony at her family’s home in San Juan.
“Well, for one, I like it (this way) because it’s at my home. I feel comfortable. I also have family that lives close by here and it’s hard for some of them to drive to the school. I like it better this way, but they’re here and that’s all that matters,” Garcia said.
“I’m actually really happy that I’m the first and I get to make history. I just hope that future athletes, particularly future female basketball players, take in all my steps and hopefully they can accomplish their goals and be successful, too.”
Garcia also made a point to specifically thank David Brown II, PSJA Memorial’s athletic coordinator and head football coach.
Despite it being Brown’s first year on the job, he played an integral role in Garcia’s recruitment process. Brown posted Garcia’s highlight tape online and days later put Garcia in contact with a basketball recruiter from Kansas’ Allen College, which ultimately offered her a full scholarship.
“Coach Brown isn’t just a coach; I look to him as my good friend. He’s someone you could talk to about anything,” Garcia said. “He has really good advice. He set me on the right path with this decision.”
Garcia, who was a three-year letterman in basketball at PSJA Memorial, also played softball and ran track and cross country for the Wolverines during her high school career, but shined most on the hardwood.
She started at point guard for PSJA Memorial as both a junior and senior while also playing select ball for the Valley Rebels and maintaining a jam-packed sports schedule even in the offseason.
“I feel like all the sports that I did were for basketball to stay in shape,” she said.
Like a jet ski zipping across the water about to catch air, Garcia’s style of play is all gas and no brakes.
The Wolverines’ point guard built herself into a relentless competitor on the court and developed a tireless work ethic whose reputation preceded her at school and on the select ball circuit.
“I’ve known Yasmine for about a year and a half. When I first met her, she kind of caught my attention just by her work ethic and the level of intensity that she brought to the weight room, conditioning and the offseason,” said Carlos Cuellar, PSJA Memorial’s director of strength and conditioning. “There’s something special about her as far as she makes coaches’ jobs very easy because she just goes hard all the time in everything she does. There were some times during the summer where I told her ‘Hey, pull back a little bit,’ when we were out on the field running and she doesn’t have any cleats so she’s slipping everywhere. I told her ‘Be careful,’ and she said, ‘No, I’m going to go all out.’”
“Unfortunately with the coronavirus and everything that was happening, we didn’t have an opportunity to play again this summer, but with that being said we’re all here for this special moment where she has the opportunity to continue her academics as well as her athletics at the next level,” said Stanley Asumnu, head coach of the Rio Grande Valley Rebels girls basketball travel team and Yasmine’s select team coach. “I’m so grateful and thankful for Yasmine, her dedication and everything she’s done since I met her and since reconnecting with her later on. We’ve constantly kept in contact. She’s a hard worker, she’s dedicated and she’s going to give it everything she’s got. I’m so proud of her that she’s taking the opportunity to go away from the Valley to Kansas to further her future.”
Garcia was instrumental in leading PSJA Memorial to back-to-back bi-district playoff berths as the team’s offensive floor general.
The Wolverines’ senior point guard earned First Team All-District honors as both a junior and senior in District 31-5A, arguably the Rio Grande Valley’s deepest girls basketball district from top to bottom over the past two seasons.
She also accounted for half of the Wolverines’ dynamic frontcourt-backcourt duo with fellow senior post Victoria Gonzalez, 31-5A’s Offensive Player of the Year for the 2019-20 season. Together, Garcia and Gonzalez combined to form one of the RGV’s most potent pick-and-roll combos that often surprised and flustered their opponents with its effectiveness.
“I like to play with the ball, maybe hit them with a few crossovers and take the ball to the hoop. And I like to find my teammates wide open and rack up assists. I just love passing the ball to my teammates and spreading the points around,” Garcia said.
“Playing for PSJA Memorial was a rollercoaster ride. We had our ups and downs, but at the end of the day I’m glad with how it turned out,” she added. “I’m just thankful that I had the opportunity to meet so many amazing girls that I can call my teammates and family. I’m just thankful for that. Playing select ball is different also because you get to meet girls from all around the Valley, so that was a different cool experience.”