By Alfonso Rivera
Professional basketball player and former Husky, Steve Monreal, is living his lifelong dream. Growing up in East Los Angeles, Monreal played football, baseball, and basketball. It was on the hardwood where he found his niche.
Monreal began playing basketball at the age of eight at Obregon Park in East Los Angeles. As a freshman at Garfield High School, Monreal was called up to the varsity team during the playoffs. He was a three-year starter and two time All-City player in the 2002-03 and 2003-04 campaigns for the Bulldogs.
His favorite player growing up was Michael Jordan. Being left handed, he also patterned his game after former Laker point guard, Nick Van Axel. “I just look at all of these great players, study and pick up moves from them and incorporate them to my game,” said Monreal.
After his stellar high school career, Monreal went on to play at East Los Angeles College. He was named to the All-SCC second team as a freshman and first team as a sophomore. In addition, Monreal was named the 2005-06 Male Athlete of the Year at ELAC. “He was a special player, one of the best that has ever played at ELAC,” said Head Coach Rob Rivera.
Monreal has the second most points scored in a single game at ELAC, scoring 41 points versus LA Southwest in the 2005-06 season.“I credit coach Rob Rivera for pushing me and being on me. He taught me the fundamentals that helped shape my game,” said Monreal
After dominating at the community college level, Monreal went on to play at Cal State Monterey Bay, an NCAA Division II school. “Being up north away from friends and family made me stronger and allowed me to grow up,” said Monreal. He credits his strong family upbringing with a major part of his success.
As the youngest of three boys, he had two older brothers to learn and seek advice from. His father never missed a game and his mother, according to Monreal, is the rock of the family. “They were all very influential in my life, I have learned a lot from both brothers,” said Monreal.
Monreal began to get noticed by professional coaches while at ELAC. He played for a club team named Sin Miedo (No Fear) that played in tournaments in Rosarito, Baja California. The coach of the team is Mario Perez, former ELAC point- guard and current assistant coach at ELAC.
It was in these tournaments that Monreal would light-up the scoreboard and help his squad win the tournaments. Monreal got signed by the Halcones (Falcons) de Xalapa in the Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional, which is the Mexican version of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
The Halcones still own his rights and have loaned him out to various teams in the last few years. He has played with the Potros (Horses) ITSON de Sonora and Abejas (Bees) de Guanajuato in 2010-11 and most recently in the 2011-12 season with the Correcaminos (Roadrunners) de Victoria.
Monreal has enjoyed much success in the LNPB. The season in this league runs from September through January. However, it is in another professional Mexican basketball league, Circuito de Baloncesto de La Costa del Pacifico (CIBACOPA), that he has already enjoyed accolades and awards.
The season here runs from March through June. In the CIBACOPA league, he plays for The Rayos (Rays) de Hermosillo. In his rookie season of 2010, Monreal made the all-star team and won the three-point contest. “A dream of mine is to represent Mexico by playing on the national team,” said Monreal.
The Rayos are currently in first place with a record of 30-4 with an 18-game winning streak. Monreal is averaging 13.4 points and 5.7 assists per game. A pure shooter, Monreal has also made 71 three pointers, leading the team in that category. The starting point guard is enjoying his experience in Mexico.
“Who knows, if I keep it up, maybe one day I will play in the NBA. I have already made it this far,” said Monreal.