It didn’t take long for Isaac Hernandez to think of why he committed to play basketball at UTPB.
The Odessa High senior point guard first mentioned his family. Playing home games five miles away from where he suited up with the Bronchos means his cheering section doesn’t have to diminish.
Hernandez then described the closeness he already felt to the Falcons’ program and their head coach Andy Newman. He knows the prestige UTPB has built over the last two seasons and wants to help continue that momentum.
Both of those visions can now become a reality as Hernandez signed his letter of intent with the Falcons Monday afternoon in front of family, friends and classmates inside the Odessa High School Fieldhouse.
It wasn’t lost on Hernandez that he inked with UTPB on the floor where he spent countless hours at early-morning practices trying to perfect his jump shot and dribble.
“Odessa means everything to me,” Hernandez said. “It’s been my home ever since I was a little kid and I always loved it and I will cherish it for the rest of my life.”
Hernandez said he had a few schools interested in him, but chose to stay close to home.
“The reason I chose UTPB was because of Coach Newman,” Hernandez said. “When I was watching his team play basketball, they had a great team. Even though they’re all graduating, I know he can set a new standard with us, the new people that are coming in. I know he can do something special with this group.”
During his freshman year, Hernandez set a goal of playing college basketball and said putting his pen to paper for the Falcons was a dream come true.
“I don’t care if it’s a (junior college, Division II) or DIII, I don’t care,” Hernandez said. “I want to go play ball and know that I’m getting recognized because I set this goal.”
Odessa High head coach Anthony Dees, who is the Bronchos’ fourth coach in as many years, is a UTPB basketball alum. He graduated from the school in 2014 after Newman’s first year with the program.
Since graduation and taking the helm of the Bronchos’ program in April, Dees spent three seasons as an Odessa High assistant coach.
“I’ve seen a kid who’s matured a lot over these last four years … his best quality to me is his ability to lead,” Dees said about Hernandez. “He led our team these last three years, been our best player, really got the other guys involved, really inspired them to do some great things and his confidence never wavered. He was our best player and he was our most unselfish player at the same time.”
In his time with the Bronchos, Hernandez led the team not only in points, but assists as well. He did so while changing between three head coaches’ systems. He’ll make it a fourth with Newman in the fall.
Dees added that the Bronchos and Falcons run a similar dribble-and-drive offense, making a facet of Hernandez’s college jump a little easier.
Maybe the biggest part of joining UTPB is that Hernandez will get to be near his family, and they’ll be in the bleachers at the Falcon Dome for as many games as possible.
“The biggest thing anybody can ask for especially in the college satiation is family and his family is up the street from here,” Dees said. “They’ll be at every game. They’ll travel to the best of their ability.
“His dad and mom did not miss a single game in his four-year career. I don’t think that’ll change as he goes into college and I think that that’ll help him with his college transition because he has so much support right here.”